When fatty Ryan (Troy Gentile), skinny Wade (Nate Hartley) and hobbit-like Emmit (David Dorfman) start high school, they become the instant target of the psychotic school bully Filkins (Alex Frost). Life quickly becomes a living hell and the boys decide to place an online ad for a personal bodyguard. Enter Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), a homeless bum with his eye on the silverware, who fools the boys with his bluff of being an ex-army man with fighting techniques. But it doesn't take long for them to realize that Drillbit is a perpetual liar with a vivid imagination.
Review by Louise Keller:
You've got to hand it to Owen Wilson. He has an uncanny ability to delivery the loopiest of lines without losing credibility. And there are a bundle of loopies in this off-beat comedy in which Wilson plays the paid bodyguard to three high school nerds in a bid to ward off the psychotic school bully. It's not surprising that Seth Rogan had a hand in writing the script (with TV writer Kristofor Brown), nor is it a surprise to find Judd Apatow's name among the producers. These humour kings with a soft spot for the nerd are everywhere these days, spreading their wackiness far and wide. The humour is unashamedly low-brow but spiked with smart ideas. I chuckled, laughed and squirmed as the film goes through its paces and everyone gets their just desserts.
'If we want to be popular, we have to be proactive,' ultra-skinny Wade (Nate Hartley) tells Troy Gentile's fatty Ryan on the eve of their first day at high school. Everything is a disaster on Day One, but Day Two is even worse as they are aggressively targeted by Alex Frost's seriously deranged bully, who makes life one long nightmare.
There's a funny sequence as Wade, Ryan and Emmit (David Dorfman), the short boy with braces, interview potential candidates as their personal bodyguard. Of course, Wilson's Drillbit Taylor, who was discharged from the army for 'unauthorised terrorism' gets the gig, and immediately pockets silver trays, watches, ipods and cameras on the pretext of them being useful weaponry. The script is clever in that it allows us to view Drillbit sympathetically; other adults, such as Wade's sports mad father and the ineffective headmaster are bombastic idiots. But the twist that is inspired is when Drillbit (dressed in Wade's father's expensive suit) comes to the school and is mistaken as a replacement teacher, a story strand which starts a life of its own, as he falls for Lisa, the pretty loser-loving teacher, played by Judd Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann.
The three young boys are excellent, and I especially like Hartley's pale and puny Wade whose crush on Brooke (Valerie Tian) becomes a running plot point. The film runs a little too long, but the resolution comes together nicely as both the boys and Drillbit help each other. Drillbit Taylor is the kind of film that makes you laugh despite yourself. And isn't that what we all need, now and again?
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DRILLBIT TAYLOR (PG)
CAST: Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann, Alex Frost, Josh Peck
PRODUCER: Judd Apatow, Susan Arnold, Donna Roth
DIRECTOR: Steven Brill
SCRIPT: Seth Rogan, Kristofor Brown
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Fred Murphy
EDITOR: Brady Heck, Thomas J. Nordberg
MUSIC: Christophe Beck
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jackson De Govia
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 20, 2008