DVD Release Date:  July 1, 2008
Theatrical Release Date:  March 21, 2008
Rating:  PG-13 (crude sexual references throughout, strong bullying, language, drug references and partial nudity)
Genre:  Comedy
Run Time:  102 min.
Director:  Steven Brill
Actors:  Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann, Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, David Dorfman Alex Frost, Casey Boersma, Dylan Boersma

Although not exactly my comedic cup of tea, producer/screenwriter Judd Apatow has quickly made a name for himself as the bankable funny guy in Hollywood.

With the cinematic one-two punch of Knocked Up and Superbad last year (my guess is that most people have already forgotten about the less successful Walk Hard:  The Dewey Cox Story, which poked fun at biopics like Walk the Line and Ray), and The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Talladega Nights in the past, it seems that anything Apatow touches magically turns to box office gold.

But then again, there’s a reason why so many successful showbiz types only seem to experience the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. Without the right material, (see Drillbit Taylor) it’s not particularly easy to maintain the Midas touch. 

And while I predict that the Apatow faithful will still flock to Drillbit Taylor in droves, even though the laughs are seriously few and far between, Apatow’s ability to please his core audience may be in question with too many more lame comedies like these.

Even with Owen Wilson’s goofy, laidback charm in full force, it’s not enough to make up for a leaden script with enough Hallmark card clichés to turn even the happiest person a little bit cynical.

Basically, when three easy targets named Ryan (Troy Gentile), Wade (Nate Hartley) and Emmit (David Dorfman) enter high school, they quickly find out it’s not going to be easy to survive with a psychotic school bully (Alex Frost) on the loose. Each day, whether he’s slamming them up against their lockers or humiliating them in one cringe-worthy way after another, he won’t let up on making their lives, well, way less than pleasant. It’s a scenario we’ve all seen before countless times (even in Apatow’s critically acclaimed T.V. show Freaks and Geeks), and the screenwriters don’t do much to distinguish this story from the pack.

That fact is especially surprising, considering that ’80s film legend John Hughes of Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club fame helped with the script under a pseudonym. Twenty-plus years ago, the way that Hughes dealt with high schoolers’ issues was always inventive and poignant. Unfortunately, that winning touch is nowhere to be found here.

Since Ryan and his buddies can’t quit high school and haven’t found a way to adequately persuade the bully to stop, the guys decide it’s high time to hire a bodyguard. Of course, unlike the Britney Spearses of the world, they don’t exactly have a big budget. And proving the old adage that “you get what you pay for,” they quickly enlist the services of Drillbit Taylor (Wilson), who they find through an ad they’ve post online