Length: 102 minutes
Director: Steven Brill (Heavy Weights; Without a Paddle)
Writers: Seth Rogen (Superbad; “Da Ali G Show”) and Kristofor Brown (“Beavis and Butt-Head”; “The Tom Green Show”)
Starring: Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann, Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, David Dorfman, Danny R. McBride, Alex Frost, David Koechner, Lisa Lampanelli, Stephen Root, Valerie Tian, Josh Peck, Cedric Yarbrough, Robert Musgrave, Chuck Lidell, Adam Baldwin, Frank Whaley, Steven Brill
“Drillbit Taylor” has been labeled “Superbad Jr.” by a lot of critics- mainly due to the Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen connections. Apatow produced “Superbad” and Rogen co-wrote and starred in it. There’s even three kids that star in the film that vaguely resemble the three main characters of “Superbad”. Wade (Nate Hartley) is the tall, skinny nerd; Ryan (Troy Gentile) is the wise-cracking fat kid, and Emit (David Dorfman) is the geek among the dorks (aka “McLovin”). The comparisons stop there. “Drillbit Taylor” isn’t sex obsessed or even close to as raunchy as “Superbad”. The three main characters here come across as younger, more innocent versions of the characters in the other film. The storyline isn’t even about their quest to get laid or drunk- it’s about their quest to stop getting their asses kicked. School bullies Filkins (Alex Frost) and Ronnie (Josh Peck) fill their days with making the three friends’ lives a living hell. Obviously too weak to fight back, they decide to hire a bodyguard. Enter Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson). Taylor is a homeless crook who spends his time daydreaming up schemes with his fellow bum crooks (including a hilarious Danny R. McBride). The boys offer the right amount of cash for Drillbit’s protection and meanwhile he and the crooks can plan to rob them blind. Drillbit lies and claims to be a well trained Army killing machine. Of course, at first he ends up causing more harm than good, but he starts to warm up to the boys and begins to actually want to help. There’s a fair share of laughs, but it doesn’t add up overall to much of a movie. More like a minor diversion. Wilson is hilarious as usual, though the plot doesn’t give him too much to do. There’s a forced romantic subplot involving Drillbit and a teacher (“Knocked Up”’s Leslie Mann) that seems tacked on to draw in a female audience. The kids are pretty likable, though they too aren’t really given too much focus (Wade also has an even more minor romantic subplot). Nor are the bullies- and I couldn’t help shake the fact that bully Frost was one of the killers in Gus van Sant’s “Elephant”. I kept imagining him gunning the kids down instead of putting them in headlocks. It may be predictable and not up to par with Apatow and Rogen’s latest works, but you could do a lot worst at the movies this week. Expect to laugh, but don’t expect to remember much of it later.
(Note: John Hughes fans should take note that he receives co-“story” credit under the alias “Edmond Dantes”)
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