Dubby’s dvdiscussion: Fortune’s soldier


The King of Sleaze and Company, the wonderfully funny Team Apatow considered to be in Hollywood heaven have come down a notch with Drillbit Taylor which is Tom Brown School days with the bullies being accosted by a pretend soldier for hire.

But let veteran Kit Bowen say it really well, “Produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by Apatow’s BFF Seth Rogen, Drillbit is a little bit My Bodyguard, a little bit Freaks and Geeks. The story focuses on three geeky high school freshmen — Ryan (Troy Gentile), Wade (Nate Hartley) and Emmet (David Dorfman) — who become primary target practice for the campus bully, Filkins (Alex Frost). Enter Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), a homeless Army deserter, who answers the boys’ ad for a bodyguard, mainly because he wants to rip them off. During the course of the movie, however, Drillbit teaches the boys how to stick up for themselves and grows to care about them, especially after he pretends to be a substitute teacher at their school — you know, to ‘watch’ over them. It’s a cool gig for the drifter since he gets free coffee, a new girlfriend (Leslie Mann as a horny English teacher) and newfound respect. Eventually everything goes to hell in a hand basket, as they are wont to do, but at least everyone walks away learning some valuable life lessons.”

It was Apatow and Co who gave us Anchorman, the delicious dirty Knocked Up and Talladega Nights. Drillbit doesn’t live up to those classics but Wilson, who is going to kick a** when he is not stoned, is a likeable rascal who’s a cross between a Dupree and a Wedding Crasher — his certain charismatic style is undeniable on screen. You can’t help but like him in whatever he does, even if the film he is in pales by comparison. Not to say the rest of Drillbit’s cast isn’t supporting Wilson as best as they can. The unlucky geek squad is full of fresh faces, with newcomers Gentile and Hartley capturing their inner nerd with a passion.

Director Seth Rogen, an old time Apatow follower, seems obsessed by high school. He wrote TV’s Freaks And Geeks and Superbad. We give the last word to Bret Fetzer who says, “Like Owen Wilson himself, Drillbit Taylor has a loose, shaggy-dog appeal. Wilson plays a homeless ex-soldier who wants to emigrate illegally to Canada — and when three misfit high-school students hire him to protect them from bullies, he sets out to fleece them for the money he needs to get away. Naturally, this being a formulaic crowd-pleaser, he bonds with the kids and discovers that maybe his life isn’t so worthless after all. Fortunately for moviegoers, the creators of Drillbit Taylor (including co-writer Seth Rogen, star of Knocked Up) have the wit to tweak the formula and give what could have been prefabricated and bland some grit, surprises, and genuine laughs (as well as an allusion to this movie’s obvious inspiration, the 1980 teen-movie classic My Bodyguard). While nowhere near as funny (or as rude) as Rogen’s previous co-writing effort, the dorkily sublime Superbad, Drillbit Taylor benefits from a similar grasp of the genuine cravings and frustrations of adolescence. Still, it’s Wilson’s movie, and his slacker-romantic rhythm gives the humour its swing. Also featuring Leslie Mann (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), who is woefully underutilised as Wilson’s love interest. One sneaky bit of casting: The main bully is played by Alex Frost, who played an unhappy teen driven to shoot up his school in director Gus Van Sant’s Elephant.”