Sunday, March 23, 2008

Review: Drillbit Taylor

Starring: Owen Wilson, Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley, Alex Frost
Director: Steven Brill
Release Date: March 21, 2008
Running Time: 102 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

This movie is a classic example of two ideas playing against the middle.

The story was based on an original idea from John Hughes.


The synopsis? Three freshmen get singled out the first day of high school by a bully. The place an internet ad and end up hiring a bodyguard, Drillbit Taylor, to protect them.


The movie is rated PG-13 (ugh)…

… for crude sexual references throughout, strong bullying, language, drug references, and partial nudity.

Based on that description, if I was a teenager watching HBO late at night and that flashed up on the screen, I would have thought I had died and gone to ‘Movies I Shouldn’t Be Watching’ heaven.

But the end result is Drillbit Taylor; a movie about Ryan (Troy Gentile), Wade (Nate Hartley), and Emmit (David Dorfman). Three freshmen who, on the first day of high school, get railroaded by the school bully, Filkins (Alex Frost). After a series of interviews, the boys hire Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson) as their budget bodyguard.

Drillbit Taylor is the nicest looking homeless guy you will ever see – in real life or the movies. His clothes are just vintage enough to pass as dirty and his hair just messed up enough not to be neat.

Filkins is the type of high school kid who lives in a nice house, drives an immaculate car and has no parental supervision anywhere to be found. The fact that he has no parents anywhere to be seen is addressed, but the idea is so obvious and out of place it made me wish they’d have just left well enough alone. He is a cross between Nelson from The Simpsons and O’Bannion from Dazed and Confused. Just crazy enough to be worried about, but over the top enough to know he will get his in the end.

My problem with movies like this are not that they are simply bad movies – I can handle that. When that bad movie is wrapped in pretty paper and jammed down my throat while being passed off as something else is where I grow tired. The people that made this movie had to know it wasn’t good, or they wouldn’t have had to resort to pulling that old ‘From the Maker’s of ____’ trick. Judd Apatow needs to stop attaching his name to movies his friends make or they are going to tarnish his golden touch. And Superbad was funny, but Seth Rogen hasn’t proved that he can write just yet.

The movie is supposed to be light with a sprinkle of warm and fuzzies but I was too bored to notice. I liked Wilson more when he interacted with the kids. I liked the kids more when they interacted with themselves. And I liked the movie more when I listened to an older couple next to me talk about how awful it was in between crunches of popcorn.

Owen Wilson elected to sit out the promotional tour for this movie. Producers were worried the press would spend more time focusing on his hospitalization last year than discussing the movie. I would like to think Wilson just knew he made a bad movie and decided to cut his losses. Who knows.

I would refer to the movie a wolf in sheep’s clothing but with a title like Drillbit Taylor, I’m not sure it was even trying to hide.

And there’s the rub.

* ½ out of ****


WaywardJam said...

I too thought Wilson and the kids or the kids alone were the strongest moments, well as strong as you could hope for. The over-the-top bully grated my nerves.

Entertaining, but not enough.

Your crunching popcorn comment was cold-blooded! (but accurate). Nice.

Fletch said...

I'm with WaywardJam. I didn't think it was great, but it had enough funny to keep me somewhat entertained for 90 minutes, though it was in need of some clearer direction and/or editing.