Friday, March 21, 2008

Drillbit Taylor

“You look like a professor of faggotology.”

The film stars Nate Hartley and Troy Gentile as lovable losers and incoming freshman. I probably don’t need to tell you the rest of the plot, but here goes.

The pair, along with a tag-a-along nerd pal (David Dorfman), on arriving at school the first day, instantly become the new objects of ridicule and torture for the sadistic school bully (Alex Frost) and his wacky pal (Josh Peck) who physically assault them on school property, try to run them down with their car, and make serious threats against their lives.

Sadly it seems the movie takes place in South Park, Colorado since every adult is a complete moron. Complaints to the principal (Stephen Root) and to parents lead to only shrugs and laughs.

In order to protect themselves the boys hire a homeless veteran (Owen Wilson) to be their bodyguard. Trouble is he’s more interested in mooching of the kids and scoring with a nymphomaniac teacher (Leslie Mann) than actually helping them.

There are also subplots involving a young girl (Valerie Tian, the cute Asian girl outside the abortion clinic in Juno) who one of our nerds has a crush on, and a plot between Drillbit and his homeless friends to rob the kid’s houses, for their own good (don’t ask).

The film is high school 101. You know everything that’s going to happen well before it makes it’s way into onto the screen. Drillbit will screw the kids over in hilarious ways before learning to accept and care for them, he’ll eventually screw-up and get caught, but make amends, the kids will learn to deal with their own problems, and the bully will get what’s coming to him. Nothing new here.

The film does contain some funny moments, and others that would work better if they didn’t seem quite so obvious. I couldn’t help but ponder that if this material had been done either as a stark drama, or as a dark comedy (what if these kids really hired a guy to kill the bully?) there would be a much bigger payoff.

I’m also a little tired of these cliched adults who see and do nothing because the plot calls for them to be beyond braindead. Everyone accepts Drillbit as a substitute because he carries a mug? The principal doesn’t think Filkins is dangerous because he simply denies the incidents? Didn’t anyone see the run over people’s yards trying to run them over after school? How about the entire hall full of witnesses for his other “pranks?” How about punching out a substitute teacher on school property? You’d think any number of these incidents would be enough to take the situation seriously. Especially in this litigious, not to mention post-Columbine, world we live in.

Drillbit Taylor isn’t necessarily a bad film, but I can’t bring myself to recommend it either. Much like it’s hero it is simply misguided and incredibly lazy. Still it provides a some funny moments and for those looking for a film that asks nothing more of an audience to show up and laugh at nerds and root for bullies getting what’s coming to them you could probably do worse than this film. Or you could save yourself a few bucks and rent Superbad (also produced by Judd Apatow and co-written by Seth Rogen) and have a slightly better experience.

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