“Drillbit Taylor” Movie Review

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DRILLBIT TAYLOR” (PG-13, Opening March 21st)

Reviewed by Wajahat Ali

The Hollywood Pitch: Ok, imagine 3 O’clock High meets a netuered Superbad. Throw in Owen Wilson and Judd Apatow’s name as producer – voila! Hit, baby, hit!

Unfortunately – not.

The latter movie was a runaway 2007 hit and DVD sensation showcasing the madcap, profane, vulgar yet all too real dilemmas of sexually frustrated, geeky hormonal teenagers worldwide (Realistically played by Michael “Juno” Cera and Jonah “Accepted” Hill). The former (For those old enough to remember it) is a 1987 childhood classic starring Casey Seizmako (Remember the 80’s?) as the protagonist geek preparing for an appointment with death at 3’oclock in the high school parking lot: a fight with the school bully.

Drillbit Taylor is the ungainly, well intentioned yet mentally challenged bastard progeny of those two movies. A labored, disjointed and straining comedy with a few chuckles; but, it’s a lighthearted, amiable and quickly forgettable cinematic affair.

Owen Wilson plays the charming and perpetually lackadaisical protagonist who cons his way into convincing our trio of nerd Freshman to hire him as their highly trained, professional bodyguard protection against the sadistic high school bully.

In reality, he’s a army deserter and a homeless, beach bum, whose mean spirited, derelict friends convince him to take the job so they can rob the children’s suburban home.

Will the kids find out about Drillbit’s real identity? Will Drillbit have a change of heart? Will the dorky trio have a climatic throwdown with the sadistic bully? If you need help answering these questions, then I have a lemon to sell you for $5,000.

With a creative team including writer Seth Rogen (Knocked Up), producer Judd Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin) and Owen Wilson, we expect more than stereotypical, mainstream Hollywood fluff. This is a pure by-the-numbers flick that never cataches momentum and seems assembled out of bits and gags that never materialize into comedy gold.

The geek story stars the lanky, skinny, bespectacled dork, Wade (Played by Nate Hartley) with the hots for the brainy Asian American girl , and his foil, the smack-talking, freestyle rapping “fatty” Ryan (Played by Troy Gentile.) They are eventually joined by a garralous, wunderkind nerd – the hobbit – played by David Dorfman (The freaky kid from The Ring.) The group is likeable enough and you root for them to one-up the inexplicably violent and relentless bully.



For the first half of the movie, there’s no real sense of pacing or tone, just a collage of jokes and plot points hoping to stick. There’s Wade’s insensitive jock of a stepfather with his two Alpha-male twins who goes out of his way to demean and belittle Wade. One wonders why his mom would ever marry or remain married to a jerk like this? Then, we have the bully who drives a baller ride to school, lives in a mansion, is legally emanciapted from his wealthy, out of the country parents, yet somehow never gets penalized or reprimanded for cruel, malicious acts of violence by the school authorities. Also, the root of his anger is never developed or explained. He’s a bully. He picks on Wade and Ryan. He gets away with it. Ok? Great. Plot moves forward.

Then, throw in a sad-sack yet lovable Drillbit as the unlikely hero who forms a bond with the children and inspires them to fight the bully on their own terms. The story finally gets cracking when Drillbit poses as a substitute teacher and infiltrates the school to protect his clients. How does he con his way inside the school as a respectable teacher, you ask? He shows up in a jacket holding a coffee cup and is directed to the teacher’s lounge. Yup – that simple.

By posing as Dr. Illbit Taylor, Wilson charms the pretty and naive teacher, Lisa, played by Leslie Mann (Judd Apatow’s wife and so good in Knocked Up) within 2 minutes of meeting her (literally) , thus establishing her as the naive, gullible love interest. Mann’s role is a throwaway part, which is a shame because she shows great comedic timing when asked to play sassy, wise- ass intelligent women.


The “training” sequences where Drillbit pretends to teach the kids lethal and deadly combat movies (such as the “bear hug”) are amusing. The kids themselves are believable in appearance and behavior, thus lending them some credibility; unlike the 30 year olds playing high schoolers in Beverly Hills 90210.

There isn’t much to say about movies like Drillbit. Even though they are dumb and cliched, they are harmless and do manage to inspire a few chuckles. And the audience, in the tradition of Karate Kid and Teen Wolf, always roots for the inevitable, ultimate nerd comeuppance. In Drillbit, we have a hardcore, violent final throwdown with fisticuffs, body slams, karate kicks, and even a samurai sword.

The nerds, once shamed and humiliated, emerge triumphant and respected. And who doesn’t like an ending like that?

TWO STARS out of FOUR. (DVD Rental.)

One thought on ““Drillbit Taylor” Movie Review

  1. Its comedy falls flat, and the film has a violent core where its heart should be. And that’s where the problem within this film lies, although Wilson does somewhat charm. Nice Review, check out mine when you can!!

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