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Clichéd Drillbit Hardly Apatow's Sharpest Work

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2008 21 Mar
Clichéd <i>Drillbit</i> Hardly Apatow's Sharpest Work

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

Drillbit has an agenda of his own, though. Like almost any film that Wilson is a part of, he manages to charm even when he’s playing a truly ridiculous character. After all, who actually believes a scrawny guy like Wilson could protect anyone? Or that escaping to Canada is the cure-all to all his problems? Even surpassing that obvious flaw, however, Wilson’s acting isn’t nearly enough to completely redeem a homeless ex-Army guy with a few fighting techniques and more scams than your average con artist.

Like all movies of this ilk, however, Wilson’s character doesn’t stay bad for long (cue sappy music and long, drawn-out soliloquies where the moral of the story is delivered). And with an ending anyone could see coming a mile away, Drillbit Taylor proves to be a serious exercise in film-watching futility. One only hopes that someone like Apatow with a knack for making people laugh, will find a better way to do so in the future.


  • Drugs/Alcohol:  There are a couple references to drugs, namely when Wade’s parents assume that he’s either buying drugs or using them.
  • Language/Profanity:  There are multiple instances of your standard-issue profanity and rude, sex-oriented dialogue.
  • Sex/Nudity:  In addition to ongoing porn references, there’s constant sex chatter of the stereotypical high-school guy variety. Also, when the nerds are running away from the bullies, they spot and photograph a couple of girls laying out, one of them topless and lying on her stomach. Owen Wilson’s backside is also shown in a couple of scenes.
  • Violence:  Drillbit tells the boys the only way to fight violence is with violence, so he teaches them martial arts and Mexican judo. There’s also plenty of violence shown (including guys getting kicked in sensitive areas), thanks to a barrage of high-school bullying. Drillbit’s pinky gets cut off when a sword is thrown at him.


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