DRILLBIT TAYLOR (*1/2) - Starring Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann, Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, David Dorfman, Lisa Ann Walter, Beth Littleford, Alex Frost, Josh Peck, Kevin Hart, Danny R. McBride and Stephen Root.
Directed by Steven Brill.
I did a little background research on this, since its tone and story were so conflicted, and now it makes sense. Seth Rogen co-wrote this, he of Superbad fame, and I don't think it's too small a coincidence that the three leads feel similar to the teen geek-trio from that movie, albeit two years younger. The storyline overall feels very similar to a comedic take on 1980's My Bodyguard, and John Hughes wrote a story like this about 25 years ago. I would assume the story never made its way to the big screen because of how similar it is to My Bodyguard.
So we have the occasional Seth Rogen riff in a world where bullies are unstoppable monstrous demons, jocks think it's cool for weaker kids to get beat up, and principals and teachers who don't care. I could see this movie, made in the 1980's, as cathartic an experience as when Alfalfa beat Butch at boxing in Little Rascals, or when Daniel-san gets in that crane-kick to the face on Johnny in The Karate Kid.
This is supposed to be a comedy but it's full of unreal setups, stereotypes, and of course, relentless bullying. I's just not funny to see three kids beat up and humiliated over and over again. Alex Frost (Elephant) is good at being the bully, even if this bully is just a year or two away from beginning his serial killer career. Laughs come from finding truth in surprise. The movie lacks honesty, and it's predictable from beginning to end, so what good is it?
And Owen Wilson doesn't elevate the material at all. It's one of his laziest performances to date, and this is a guy who's perfecting the slacker persona. It was around the making of this movie he had his suicide attempt, so maybe that's why his heart's not in it.