Drillbit Taylor – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

No one is perfect. Not even the great Judd Apatow, who has become the new “it” producer in Hollywood as of late. If you want a hit comedy, just go to Judd Apatow. But after a string of hit films including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad among others, it was only a matter of time before he produced a film that wasn’t that good. Drillbit Taylor was advertised as being co-produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by Seth Rogen, a star and sometimes co-writer of several of the aforementioned hit comedies. So on paper, Drillbit Taylor looked like it had the potential to keep the Apatow success train going. But as they say “that is why they play the game”, and in this case, that is why films are criticized after they are watched.

In Drillbit Taylor, Owen Wilson stars as the title character, a homeless army vet who ends up working for three nerdy high-school freshmen, Wade (Nate Hartley), Ryan (Troy Gentile), and Emmit (David Dorfman). These teens enter their high-school careers and immediately get beat up and picked on by Terry Filkins (Alex Frost), the school’s most fearsome bully. Filkins answers to no one, which is where Drillbit enters the picture. After being hired as their bodyguard, Drillbit decides to infiltrate their campus and pass himself off as a substitute teacher so that he can be there to stop the bullying personally. At first Drillbit uses the teens for money, but soon begins to care about them personally. He then also helps them gain confidence, and eventually Drillbit starts dating one of the school’s English teachers (Leslie Mann), as you might have expected.

Nothing about this film is original. The basic premise of the film comes straight from a 1980 movie called My Bodyguard. But the overall feeling of this film is more like a prequel to Superbad. The three teenage characters in this film look and act just like younger versions of the three teens in Superbad. Drillbit also follows the predictable formula of any “geek vs. bully” film before it. The beginning, middle, and end can all be predicted at the start of the film, and that is never good.

Owen Wilson is essentially playing the same character he has played in countless films before this one. His spiritual cowboy/surfer routine is a perfect fit for this role. But the character Wilson is playing is poorly written and is not that likable. He does have good chemistry with the three relatively new teenaged actors. They have to be the main bright spot for this film. They were perfect for these roles. Unfortunately, they aren’t given enough funny material to save this film. Alex Frost, as the bully, is actually so good at playing a psychopath that it actually hurts the film in the long run. What he does to these kids is extremely over-the-top.

Drillbit Taylor might have been a hit comedy in the 1980s, but today’s audience has seen better from everyone involved in this film, except for the three teenage leads. They try hard and Owen Wilson is just playing that same guy you have seen countless times before, but the script is a little too unbelievable at times and not funny enough at other times. Judd Apatow films are known for being both rude and crude, but also having a heart. With a PG-13 rating and characters that you aren’t made to care about from the beginning, Drillbit Taylor falls way short of the high bar that was set in previous Apatow films.

The video is given in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The transfer is pretty good with strong, rich colors. No major problems at all.

The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, so no major problems here either.

Audio Commentary
There is a full-length commentary with Steven Brill (director) and Kristofor Brown (co-writer/producer), and eventually they are joined by the three teen actors, Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley, and David Dorfman. This is decent enough, but it’s a little slow in parts and not enough information is given out.

“The Writers Get a Chance to Talk” Featurette
This runs for 14 minutes and it features the writers of the film, Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown, speaking on the phone together. They talk about writing the script with images from the movie and behind-the-scenes photos playing underneath the conversation. This is pretty interesting mainly for the fact that almost say that the story could have been better.

“Rap Off” Featurette
This runs for 3 minutes and it’s all about filming the rap battle in the film. The actors worked with a rap coach for this scene, which is pretty cool to watch.

“Sprinkler Day” Featurette –
This runs for 3 minutes and it’s all about setting up the scene where Drillbit sets off a fire alarm. This is okay, but nothing groundbreaking.

“Bully” Featurette
This runs for 3 minutes and it’s all about the bullies in the film. We see the two actors, Alex Frost and Josh Peck, who play the bullies in the movie messing around on set. There is also raw footage and outtakes from some of their scenes. It’s short, but there is lots of information about these two actors packed in there.

“Directing Kids” Featurette
This runs for 3 minutes and it’s all about Steven Brill directing the main teenage actors. There is jokes and bloopers from the set as they filmed this movie. Decent enough, but nothing “must-watch”.

“The Real Don: Danny McBride” Featurette – This runs 6 minutes and it’s all about the actor who plays Drillbit’s friend in the movie. There is a talk with him on the set.

Gag Reel
This runs 4 minutes and it’s your typical bloopers and pranks from filming this movie. Mostly funny stuff.

Line-O-Rama
This runs 4 minutes. Just like in other Judd Apatow movies, this feature is a rapid-fire montage of alternate line readings and improvisation.

Deleted and Extended Scenes
These scenes total 17 minutes. There is a variety of different scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the movie. There is some funny stuff that was cut from the film, though, so these are worth checking out.

If you are an Owen Wilson fan, you will probably enjoy this enough to may consider buying it. But I wouldn’t recommend it, since Wilson has been in much funnier films before this one. In fact, this film is not as funny as it could have been considered it’s credentials. But it’s decent enough and is worth a rental. Just don’t expect this to be the next great Judd Apatow comedy and you won’t be that disappointed.

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Paramount Home Entertainment presents Drillbit Taylor. Directed by Steven Brill. Written by Kristofor Brown and Seth Rogen. Starring Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, Ian Roberts, Owen Wilson, David Dorfman, Alex Frost, and Stephen Root. Running time: 109 minutes. Rated: PG-13. Released on DVD: July 1, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.

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