Owen Wilson's easy-going brand of comedy is the best part of Drillbit Taylor, but the film really doesn't do the comic actor justice.
Produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by Apatow's BFF Seth Rogen, Drillbit is a little bit My Bodyguard, a little bit Freaks and Geeks. The story focuses on three geeky high school freshman--Ryan (Troy Gentile), Wade (Nate Hartley) and Emmet (David Dorfman)--who become primary target practice for the campus bully, Filkins (Alex Frost). Enter Drillbit Taylor (Wilson), a homeless Army deserter, who answers the boys' ad for a bodyguard, mainly because he wants to rip them off. During the course of the movie, however, Drillbit teaches the boys how to stick up for themselves and grows to care about them, especially after he pretends to be a substitute teacher at their school--you know, to "watch" over them. It's a cool gig for the drifter since he gets free coffee, a new girlfriend (Leslie Mann, as a horny English teacher) and newfound respect. Eventually everything goes to hell in a hand basket, as they are wont to do, but at least everyone walks away learning some valuable life lessons. We should say "Awww," but thankfully the script keeps the gag reflex to a minimum.
While Wilson may be phoning it in a little as Drillbit--a likeable rascal who's a cross between a Dupree and a Wedding Crasher--his certain charismatic style is undeniable on screen. You can't help but like him in whatever he does, even if the film he is in pales by comparison. Not to say the rest of Drillbit's cast isn't supporting Wilson as best they can. The unlucky geek squad is full of fresh faces, with newcomers Gentile and Hartley capturing their inner nerd with a passion. Many will also recognize Dorfman as the spooky kid from the Ring series, now a pipsqueak-y teen. Frost (Elephant) has the crazy eyes of a psychotic teenager, bent on humiliation and destruction of those who stand in his way. Realistic? Perhaps not, but he makes a decent villain. Mann is handed the smallest part possible but makes her presence known. Her mini-seduction scene with Wilson in the teacher's lounge is definitely one of the film's better moments. Still, this is Wilson's movie and frankly, he can do better.
Seth Rogen must have had a hell of a time in high school--he can't quit writing about it. On Judd Apatow's first effort, TV's Freaks and Geeks, Rogen played a high school freak, while last summer's Superbad, which he co-wrote with former high school bud Evan Goldberg, took high school geekdom to a whole new level. Now, he and Apatow team up on another I'm-a-geek-in-high-school-but-stay-true-to-myself effort, hiring director Steven Brill to helm the proceedings, who brings his own level of expertise having directed such comedy favorites as Without a Paddle and Little Nicky. Drillbit does have its hilarious moments--a montage of hiring a bodyguard stands out (including the cameo from the original My Bodyguard Adam Baldwin)--but overall, it just isn't as fresh and different as other Apatow/Rogen collaborations. They seem to have forgotten how not to rehash past experiences--or past movies. There's also the fact that Drillbit is PG; by surpressing the colorful language, it may have hindered their creativity. Either way, the current comedy kings miss the mark this time around.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.