Apatow-styled, but nothing special

March 25, 2008, midnight | By David Jia | 15 years, 8 months ago

"Drillbit Taylor" lacks ingredients for fresh humor

Bullying – the common ground between all incoming freshmen as they wearily step into high school. When bullies start to choose their victims, it's that first impression that decides fate.

And Wade (Nate Hartley) and Ryan (Troy Gentile) sure do get off on the wrong foot of their high school careers. Not only do they unintentionally don matching shirts, the two stand in the way of the school bullies Filkins (Alex Frost) and Ronnie (Josh Peck), and their struggling prey, Emmit (David Dorfman). "Drillbit Taylor," Judd Apatow's latest endeavor, pokes fun at this everyday spectacle in a fun-filled but ultimately unimpressive manner.

After a week of being terrorized by Filkins, who is conveniently unchecked by the irresponsible principal and an assortment of unapproachable parents, the three kids decide to hire some "professional" help, the best and cheapest of which comes in the form of Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson). But little do the kids know that this self-proclaimed military expert is nothing but a homeless con artist in need of some quick cash.

Needless to say, Drillbit eventually proves his worth even after everyone discovers his true identity. Of course, there's a problem-free, happy ending. The plotline lacks all elements of surprise or suspense, and sadly, the sloppy production does not make up for it.

"Drillbit " can best be described as the 1980's flick "My Bodyguard," mixed with some Judd Apatow and "Wedding Crashers" influence. These aspects of the film, while individually appreciable, are not a pretty sight when mashed together. Like in Wedding Crashers, Owen Wilson plays the wannabe nice guy, whose moral conflict in cheating the kids out of their money builds over time. But when Drillbit repeatedly sleeps with Lisa (Leslie Mann), one of the teachers at the high school, the jokes become overdone, and all seriousness of the movie is lost.

Fortunately, the chemistry between the younger actors flows much better. The scrawny Hartley, overweight Gentile and tiny Dorfman compose the perfectly-mismatched group of friends, all unsure of themselves and just trying to fit in. This unlikely trio presents quality comic relief throughout the film, whether through learning how to take a punch or being locked up in a glass trophy case by Filkins.

Several other entertaining sequences appear during the film; for instance, an interviewing session with a series of potential bodyguards leads to an admirable array of one-liners. However, too much of the movie exhibits Drillbit's phony training methods and the kids naively following his lead – scenes that accomplish little despite their lengthy duration.

A bright ray of sunshine for "Drillbit" comes in the form of Alex Frost, whose performance as the main bully can only be describe as sociopathic. But the situations Frost creates tend to be too unrealistic to be appreciated. Well-to-do middle-class families do not fit into high school hazing settings that rival gang fights in violence. The punches look and sound brutal, but there is little evidence that the danger involved is taken very seriously by any of the protagonists.

"Drillbit Taylor" is just the average laid-back comedy. The film makes no attempt to address harassment issues at school and even seems to side with the bullies at times. But each protagonist ends up with a fair share of triumphant and tender moments to grease over the squeaky, unrefined production.

"Drillbit Taylor" is rated PG-13 for crude sexual references throughout, strong bullying, language, drug references and partial nudity.

David Jia. David Jia is thrilled to be on the Silver Chips Online staff and is looking forward to a fun year as a junior as a staff writer. He enjoys swimming and table tennis, though he is not competent in either sport. His friends often think … More »

Show comments


No comments.

Please ensure that all comments are mature and responsible; they will go through moderation.