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Oh this pains me, Babies. I’ve been more than transparent in previous scribblings about my unabashed adoration of one Owen Cunningham Wilson. The breezy, laid-back, droll persona we’ve come to know from films like Shanghai Noon, Zoolander and Wedding Crashers – not to mention the entire Wes Anderson canon from Bottle Rocket to The Darjeeling Limited is a comedy yes. Sadly in his latest outing, Drillbit Taylor, it’s apparent that the person least involved in the comedy, meant to be a vehicle for the Texan’s unique charms is Wilson himself and after watching the film, one really can’t blame him for his disinterest.

Produced by Judd Apatow, Drillbit Taylor is a retread of the classic 1980 film, My Bodyguard, about a bullied high school teen who outsources his security needs. In this update, Wilson as a homeless army deserter takes on the role of protector of three relentlessly harassed freshman geeks (- after an audition that includes a clever cameo by the original bodyguard, Linderman himself, Adam Baldwin). After keeping himself afloat on the boys’ allowances and petty larceny around their homes, Drillbit’s fraud is found out after the guys, shy, painfully skinny, Miles, feisty full-figured rap impresario Ryan, and very small, very strange Emmit utilise Drillbit’s alleged military techniques with less than stellar results. Burying him further, Drillbit’s homeless friends use his intel to burglarise Wade’s house. After justifiably firing Drillbit, the boys now have to stand up for themselves as their situation with the bullies goes from bad to worse thanks to Drillbit’s poor advice and non-existent bodyguarding skills.

Drillbit Taylor is a hollow and joyless affair; but for the valiant efforts of the younger cast, particularly Nate Hartley as Wade, the shy, chivalrous beanpole, there would be nothing to praise at all. Director Steven Brill (- Heavyweights, Little Nicky) only manages to generate a few sporadic amused chuckles and one real laugh out loud moment around the 90 minute mark. The film’s entirely intentional resemblance to 2007’s Superbad, the trio of high school nerds, including another feisty fat kid with a fro, is just too familiar and pales next to its older brother. The whole project seems to be set up as a canvas for Owen Wilson to simply be the funny guy we’ve seen in so many other instances, and there’s just no drive there. Wilson’s off-beat zen timing is replaced with lassitude and dispassion as if he knows exactly how mediocre the film is. Even his ladykiller moment opposite Apatow film regular - (- and regular Apatow spouse) Leslie Mann as a teacher with a penchant for choosing losers, feels lopsided as Mann tries to generate enough energy to carry them both. The film is weak to begin with despite the presence of a script by Seth Rogan and 1980s teen movie god, John Hughes (- wisely operating under a pseudonym), and seems wholly dependent on Wilson to shore it up and deliver it. I don’t believe that even Wilson’s estimable charms could’ve saved Drillbit Taylor from being the middling effort that it is.


~ Mighty Ganesha

March 18th, 2008



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