Review: Drillbit Taylor
Plot: Three geeky high school freshmen hire a down on his luck bodyguard- the titular Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), to protect them from bullies. Hijinx ensue.
Review: I never thought I'd see the day - a giant rat turd of a film bearing the name Judd Apatow. As a long time Apatow devotee, it absolutely pains me to say that his latest, DRILLBIT TAYLOR, is a complete and utter disaster.
Well, first, let's be fair. DRILLBIT TAYLOR is not exactly a Judd Apatow film. The film is actually directed by Steven Brill (who directed a few Adam Sandler movies & is also re-shooting part of the troubled FANBOYS project). DRILLBIT TAYLOR actually feels more like a Sandler type film and star Owen Wilson is not a good fit in a film like this. Sandler has a way of selling these type of zany films, but for Wilson to be effective he needs to be grounded in reality. That aside, I think the real reason I really did not like this film is that I went in with high expectations. The last time Apatow & Rogen teamed up on a high school comedy we got SUPERBAD, which ranks right up there with FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH.
One of the big problems with the film is the script, which Rogen co-wrote with Kristofor Brown, from a story by the former master of teen cinema, John Hughes (who uses the pen name Edmond Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo). Probably the most annoying thing about the film is that, unlike SUPERBAD, no effort whatsoever has been made to make this film even slightly realistic. The whole idea of the movie - a bunch of geeky kids hiring a bodyguard - is pretty far fetched, although way back in 1980, the same idea was used in the film MY BODYGUARD (which this film references when the star of that film, Adam Baldwin, shows up in a cameo sporting his wardrobe from that film) and that film tuned out great. The reason DRILLBIT TAYLOR doesn't work is that it lacks one crucial element which is present in all of Apatow's best films: heart. KNOCKED UP, 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, & SUPERBAD worked well because they were hilarious, but also had a lot of heart, and you cared for the characters onscreen. In this film, the three main kids are walking stereotypes who never seem like real people, and as a result they're completely unrelatable.
Despite these shortcomings, the film still could have worked if it had been funny but all the jokes fall flat. Owen Wilson tries hard, and does his usual schtick. His routine is starting to wear a little thin (I think YOU, ME & DUPREE stretched it to the breaking point) and Wilson needs to either work exclusively with Wes Anderson or radically reinvent himself. Leslie Mann shows up as Wilson's love interest and while she's actually pretty funny, her role is too small to really make an impression. The same thing goes for Danny McBride, who has a small role as one of Taylor's fellow panhandlers. McBride is a funny guy, and from what I hear, his soon to be released film, THE FOOT FIST WAY, is a comedic masterpiece. Hopefully once that film comes out he'll start getting bigger roles. The three kids, played by Troy Gentille, Nate Hartley & David Dorfman (who some may recognize as Naomi Watts' creepy son in THE RING) are all pretty annoying- especially Gentille- who for some reason speaks with this annoying tough guy swagger that seems like he's trying to channel Tony Soprano.
All in all, I really can't recommend DRILLBIT TAYLOR to anyone, and the film does not work on any level. I honestly wanted to like this film, as Apatow's work (especially FREAKS & GEEKS) has meant a lot to me over the years. Heck, I even liked WALK HARD! Hopefully, Apatow & co., will bounce back with their next couple of films (both FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL and especially PINEAPPLE EXPRESS look promising) and DRILLBIT TAYLOR will be long forgotten footnote.