Drillbit Taylor

2008, Movie, PG-13, 102 mins

Review

DRILLBIT TAYLOR
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Produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by KNOCKED UP star Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown (Beavis and Butthead, Apatow's Undeclared), this high-school comedy about freaks, geeks and the bodyguard they hire to protect them from bullying is a disappointing hodgepodge of rehashed clichés.

Scrawny Wade (Nate Hartley) and tubby Ryan (Troy Gentile), best friends forever, have high hopes for their freshman year of high school. But on the first day of class, Wade attracts the attention of muscle-bound sociopath Terry Filkins (Alex Frost) and his sidekick, Ronnie (Josh Peck), by coming to the aid of undersized Emmit (David Dorfman). Filkins lives to torment underclassmen, ensuring that Wade, Ryan and Emmit have earned themselves an all-access pass to the hell of being stuffed in lockers, locked inside trophy cases, tormented in the boys room and generally terrorized both in school and out. Appealing to adults does nothing: Wade's macho stepdad, himself a former bully, tells Wade to man up, while Principal Doppler (Stephen Root) gives Filkins and inexplicable free pass. So Wade, Ryan and Emmit, who's latched onto his fellow dorks like a lamprey with braces, decide to hire a bodyguard. Between his military background and his willing to work for the pathetic sums they can scrape together from allowances and bar mitzvah gifts, Bob "Drillbit" Taylor (Owen Wilson) fills the bill. Of course, Drillbit is willing to work for pocket money because he's actually a homeless bum looking to finance a fresh start in Canada by stealing the kids' parents blind. But wouldn't you know, Drillbit actually starts to like those darned kids. Add a fledgling romance with lusty English teacher Lisa (Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann) and Drillbit suddenly has an incentive to live up to his better qualities – if he can just resist the blandishments of his less sentimental street buddy Don (Danny McBride).

Cross Apatow's Freaks and Geeks with 1980's charming MY BODYGUARD (the one with Matt Dillon as a high school sadist, Chris Makepeace as the new kid he torments and Adam Baldwin -- who pops up in a DRILLBIT cameo -- as the hulking classmate he hires for protection) and you have a good two-thirds of this tale of nerdly triumph over the iniquities of high school life; the rest is simply familiar. Wilson's loopy charm is the glue that more or less holds it together, but Drillbit's pathetic, underlying sadness is always on the verge of souring the broad gags: He's a character better suited to a bittersweet comedy than a broad one where mayhem and misery have no real consequences. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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