With the recent success of Judd Apatow’s summer surprises – “Superbad” and “Knocked Up” – one would think that with Apatow himself helming production and fellow friend and actor Seth Rogen co-writing, “Drillbit Taylor” would have promised viewers more than just a touching teen high school movie with vulgar language.
Although Owen Wilson stars in the title role, “Drillbit Taylor” fails to make use of Wilson’s brand of witty, quick-response comedy. Instead, most of the comedic one-liners and cheap laughs come from the three child actors, but it is sometimes hard to determine the difference between humor and laughs due to embarrassment for the characters in their situations.
The story focuses on the first day of high school for three nerdy freshman: Ryan (Troy Gentile), Wade (Nick Hartley), and Emmet (played by David Dorfman from “The Ring”). Ryan and Wade defend Emmet from getting beaten by the school bully, Filkins (played by Alex Frost), who then targets them for the following weeks. With a non-caring principle, the kids seem to be out of options. One day, Wade comes up with an idea for the boys to put an ad on the internet for a bodyguard. Drillbit Taylor, a homeless Army AWOL answers, and after many interviews with other people who are less fit, gets the job. After warming up to the kids and teaching them his “skills” of self defense, Drillbit learns he has to separate his liking for the kids from his desire to rob their homes to get money for his wish of moving to Canada, “where the government pays you to take the land.””Drillbit Taylor” brings to mind “My Bodyguard,” a 1980 movie of similar storyline starring Adam Baldwin in his film debut. Although the movie lacks humor at some points, the storyline is consistent and believable, and the acting on all ends is very well executed. Wilson’s characters are always charismatic and very personable so one can’t help but enjoy his performance. The three kids in the movie are by far the most impressive because of how well they put themselves in the role of geeky high school freshmen.
It seems as if Rogen’s high school years may have been very influential to him, because it shows in his writing. Rogen’s body of work also seems focused on awkward high school years – for example, he got his start at the end of the ’90s where Rogen played a “freak” on the Apatow produced television series “Freaks and Geeks.” He also drew on his past when starring in “Superbad,” a movie that follows two “outcast-types” in their last weeks of high school.
The fairy-tale ending of “Drillbit Taylor” may be what brings together the entire story, almost coaxing the audience into a syncopated “aww.” The script seemed to rely heavily on the bad-mouthed kids for humor, and it seemed to lack the originality and freshness that the Apatow comedy brigade has been able to produce. They certainly didn’t break down any walls with this one.
2 out of 4 stars