Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I’ve never been one for those Entertainment Shows, and quite honestly I find them pretty repugnant. On one of those shows I caught while flipping through the channels the paparazzi had snapped some photos of Brad and Angelina after they exited some grocery store with one of their 87 kids, and Pat O’Brien was sitting there with his co-host theorizing what could be in those brown grocery bags in their shopping basket. I’m thinking cheese, eggs, Count Chocula and Similac. Who seriously cares? Obviously a lot of people do or these shows wouldn’t exist and the paparazzi wouldn’t risk their lives to violate these peoples privacy for those precious pics of Brad and Angelina at Kroger. That being said, even I was taken aback by Owen Wilson’s alleged attempt to take his own life. Obviously the only thing I know about Owen Wilson is the persona he chooses to project to the public, but that persona is one of easy going cool nonchalance, which is the persona he takes into a lot of the roles he performs, such as this one in ‘Drillbit Taylor’.

High School. Though I’d love to be high school aged again it would have to come with the stipulation that I can avoid actually having to back to high school. Tall and skinny Wade (Nate Hartley) and short and fat Ryan (Troy Gentile) are about to discover the worst that high school has to offer when the young freshman enter their first day. Trouble starts almost immediately for the pair when Wade witnesses notorious school bully Filkins (Alex Frost) and his number one Ronnie (Josh Peck) stuffing microscopic geek Emmitt (David Dorfman) into a locker. Though Ryan greatly advised Wade against doing this, Wade ignores his best friend and request that bullies cease and desist, which of course only turns their wrath onto them and in the worst way. Worst still, super geek Emmitt now considers Wade and Ryan kindred souls as the duo has become a trio of abused high school freshman.

Since the school administration is offering no assistance and also considering that Filkins and Ronnie just tried to run down the trio in Filkins Dodge Charger, the kids decide to hire a bodyguard who shows up in the guise of the homeless, never do well,

dishonest panhandler Drillbit Taylor (Wilson) who takes the boys under his ‘wing’ to show them how to protect themselves while theoretically protecting them from evils of Filkins. Actually Drillbit is stealing valuables from these children’s home while misrepresenting himself as an Army Ranger so he can pilfer their allowance money in an effort to continue avoiding the police as an Army deserter and buy a ticket to Canada. At least that’s how it starts out of course, but to the surprise of absolutely no one Drillbit eventually takes a liking to these kids and after scamming the school admins into believing he’s a substitute teaching PhD, he’s almost becomes legitimate and even has found a girlfriend in pretty English teacher Miss Lisa (Leslie Mann). Also to the surprise of no one it all blows up in Drillbit’s face leaving him disgraced, untrusted (which isn’t a real word), and friendless unless he can finally, for the first time in his wretched life, do the right thing. Not to spoil it for you but I think the right thing will be the primary order of business.

The Jud Apatow money printing machine actually hit a hiccup with ‘Drillbit Taylor’ as it did some rather lackluster business at the old Box Office, which is actually too bad because I personally thought it was pretty damn funny. Though I’m no marketing forecaster I’m thinking that the film’s star suicide attempt… or accidental overdose or whatever the publicist are calling what Mr. Wilson went through, probably didn’t help matters none. Since Michael Cera, Jonah Hill and Christopher ‘McLovin’ Mintz-Plasse were busy doing other things, Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile and David Dorfman filled in quite admirably as the completely engaging and undeniably geeky high school freshman trio and were very easy to root for, and not to be forgotten, Alex Frost made for a very intimidating and somewhat pathological bully. Of course the movie belongs to Owen Wilson who has a way saying things that would sound normal coming out of anybody else’s mouth, but when it spills out his mouth it’s almost always funny. With solid support from Apatow’s hot wife Leslie Mann, Reno 911 favorite Cedric Yarbrough and Danny McBride, not to mention a few clever cameos including one from Adam Baldwin as fans from a certain film from the early 80’s may remember, this was a funny flick with a really nice cast.

All that being said, and still recognizing that movie did make me laugh, while we fully expect ‘Drillbit Taylor’ to be derivative and predictable, this one might have been derivative and predictable to a fault. Surely while director Steven Brill was guiding his film he realized that the whole loser / be a winner / blow up in face / redemption thing as it was presented here was simply too tired for words. Something… anything just a little bit different or off the beaten path would have been greatly appreciated. Plus the film was a little on the violent side all things considered with the ultimate message being, I guess, that sometimes you gotta deliver a brutal beatdown to get your point across. Is that a bad message? Who knows.

Anyways, I still thought ‘Drillbit Taylor’ was a really funny movie. And though some of that easy going luster that I thought Owen Wilson possessed has been tarnished, he’s still a funny dude. A funny dude who needs some serious psychiatric help – apparently like most funny dudes do - but still a really funny dude.

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