Steven Brill Written by: Kristofor Brown (screenplay & story), Seth Rogen (screenplay & story), John Hughes (story) Starring: Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann, Danny McBride, Josh Peck, David Dorfman, Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley, Alex Frost Distributed by Paramount Pictures, Apatow Productions Film is released on Friday March 21st in the U.S. & Friday March 28th in the U.K. Review by Michael Edwards
rating: 1.5I'm so sick of Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow. There, I said it. I was bored of them by the time Superbad was released, although I thought there were still a few laughs to be found there, and now I'm utterly despairing as to how they're managing to get any old tripe they want made into a film. Drillbit Taylor is an off the rack, formulaic comedy about a few young nerds just starting out at high school, on their first day they fall foul of a psychopathic bully who decides to make their lives hell. Unsurprisingly one of the boys is a fat kid with an afro with two mates who like just like the other kids out of Superbad. There's a tall, thin, geeky one who's interested in a particular girl and pines after her a lot, and a irredeemable geek who's small and squeaky, though utterly lacking the mildly humorous funny quirks of fate enjoyed by McLovin'. In fact, this film resembles the basic format and characterisation so much that this might as well be pretty much viewed as a lame prequel which should have gone straight to DVD. The difference lies in what I grudgingly call the plot. Because they're being bullied they decide to pool their resources and hire a bodyguard to keep them safe as they try to settle and establish their reputation in that (apparently) savage battle ground that is high school. On paper bits of this film actually sound really funny. The boys unwittingly hire a bum to be their bodyguard - this is the eponymous Drillbit Taylor who is played by Owen Wilson. The bum turns out to be an army deserter who doesn't like conflict but does want to rob them. He then changes his mind but fails miserably to stop his other down-and-out friends from robbing the house. There are also a bunch of witty one-liners but none of these things are delivered very well, and everything just comes across as too contrived for any of the absurd one-liners to seem spontaneously funny. Owen Wilson was definitely a mistake as the zany bum himself. He may occasionally seem like the down-and-out of Hollywood but his talents don't lie in this sort of role, despite vaguely similar prior experience in films like Zoolander and You, Me and Dupree - neither of which were exactly roaring successes. Personally I think he's more suited to the aloof quirkiness of his roles in the films of Wes Anderson, where he truly shines as tortured, deep and somehow funny characters. Drillbit Taylor is a mediocre offering clearly commissioned because of the names attached, it is badly cast, tired and reveals the same old story of gag saturation - the 'if we pump in enough humorous dialogue and absurd slapstick moments it'll be fine' philosophy. The worst thing is that I did occasionally find myself thinking that the dialogue was quite witty at points, it was just so poorly incorporated and surrounded by more lame dialogue, not to mention delivered poorly by a badly chosen cast, that it floated past me without drawing a chuckle. Fans of Rogen's style might find something worthy of a trip to the cinema in here, and there are some funny moments (I particularly enjoyed Owen Wilson's little finger getting cut off by a samurai sword) but it just really feels like a template comedy with a few household names attached to make a quick buck. Something definitely not to my taste. DRILLBIT TAYLOR is released in cinemas in the UK on 28th of March and is out on Friday in the U.S.