A watered down knockoff of Superbad, replacing sex with violence and minus the dirty talk, Drillbit Taylor is its own worst enemy by tackling a grim subject like school bullies for laughs. And it rarely works, because as anyone knows who has ever been tyrannized in school – which strangely seems to be just about everyone – it’s no joke.
The trio of stock-character suburban freshman geeks in question, skinny nervous wreck Ronnie (Josh Peck), motormouth fatty Ryan (Troy Gentile), and freaky, short tag-along screecher Emmit (David Dorfman), find themselves targets of a pair of brazen bullies the first day of high school. After far too much ensuing masochistic mayhem which the school authorities dismiss as fantasy, the battered boys pool their resources together to hire a bully buster, so to speak.
Responding to their want ad in the local paper is a super-weird assortment of thugs-for-hire, including a hip-hopper bodyguard, a karate assassin and an Israeli mercenary, and this is about as funny as the movie gets. The only applicant willing to accept their measly chump change is Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), a self-described outdoorsman and budget bodyguard. He’s actually a homeless vet discharged for ‘unauthorized heroism’ who is ready and willing to fake it because he could desperately use the cash.
Stumbling its way through a supremely unsurprising and clumsy storyline featuring unpleasant adult beat-down youth comeuppance, Drillbit Taylor walks a creepy fine line between bratty kid-on-kid abuse and adult violence against boys to the cheers of matriculated eager spectator throngs. As opposed to say, a more constructive and wise wrap-up featuring anger management and conflict resolution that points out hey, there is a distinct maturity difference kids and adults. Sadly, this filmmaking team of producer Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), director Steven Brill (Without A Paddle), and screenwriters Seth Rogen (Superbad) and Kristofor Brown (Beevis and Butt-Head) did not get their act together, sorry guys.
The bottom line is, do we really need an instruction manual kinda movie for kids that actually gives pointers to school bullies on how to do their vicious thing without getting busted? Grade this one F.
1 1/2 stars