On the first day of high school, buddies Ryan (Troy Gentile, “Nacho Libre”) and Wade (newcomer Nate Hartley) and new sidekick Emmit (David Dorfman, “The Ring”) become targeted by senior bully Filkins (Alex Frost, “Elephant”) who makes their life such a battlefield they think their only hope for peace is their own professional bodyguard. They run an online ad and of the mercenaries, hit men and bodyguards who answer, the guy who sounds best is also easiest on their wallet - "Drillbit Taylor."
And they say Will Ferrell is repeating himself. Cowriting with Kristofor Brown (“Beavis and Butt-Head”), "Superbad's" Seth Rogan offers a weak rehash of his first hit, substituting Seniors looking to get laid with Freshmen looking to not get beat up. Other plot differences may be attributed to films from "School of Rock" to "Risky Business." The only scene which brought a smile to my face was a brief interaction between Wilson panhandling in rush hour traffic and comic Lisa Lampanelli as one of his regular benefactors.
As in "Superbad," a fat, audacious kid (Ryan) and his best friend, a shy, dweeby skinny guy (Wade), head for high school with a mission - to become popular - but they're undone by the time they make the corner bus stop and discover they've worn the same distinctive shirt. After enduring many snide comments ('Was it 2 for 1 day at Hot Topic?'), they finally get into the school itself only to witness a fellow Freshman (Emmit) being stuffed inside his locker by Filkins and his cohort Ronnie (Josh Peck, "Mean Creek," "Havoc"). Against his better judgement, Wade speaks up to defend Emmit and as no good deed goes unpunished, he and Ryan inherit an even dweebier sidekick than themselves and get straightjacketed into one shirt by the bullies.
After a series of physical abuse, the trio visit Principal Doppler (Steve Root) to get the issue resolved, but he only calls in Filkins and exacerbates the problem. We also learn that Filkins is emancipated from his parents, and, therefore, somehow 'above the law.' The bodyguard idea is broached and we're onto the standard issue of interview montage in which various in-joke cameos are made until our star appears. He has, of course, already been established as a homeless dude who is looking for $387 to relocate to greener pastures in Canada. As he's the most affordable of the lot, they take him on, but instead of onsite protection, Drillbit puts them through a self protection boot camp. Taking Drillbit's advice, would-be rapper Ryan 'call me T-Dog' goes all '8 Mile' on an impromptu school ground Filkins performance and simply stokes the maniac's resolve. For no apparent reason, Filkins is now cautious about hammering the kids on school property, so a public announcement is made that there will be a fight at Filkins's place.
What a lazy piece of screenwriting "Drillbit Taylor" is, from the pathetic love interest Lisa (Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann), a teacher attracted to losers who gets it on with Drillbit at every opportunity, to the bully who is pointedly emancipated from his parents yet lives in their sprawling home. As in "School of Rock," someone unqualified and unemployed poses as a teaching sub, but Jack Black had to work at his pretense - Drillbit simply marches in and even brings some friends. As in "Risky Business," high schoolers associating with shady characters find their parents' homes burglarized. Continuity is also an issue - when Drillbit's buddy Don (Danny R. McBride, "Hot Rod") backs up a truck full of loot from Wade's home at a pawn shop loading dock, Drillbit confronts him with the truck's back gates open, then proceeds to hijack the truck and drive away with them closed.
Owen Wilson imbues what he can of his laid back stoner charm and even appears completely nude (from behind) not once, but twice, for the benefit of the ladies, but his character's a dud and there is not much he can do to resuscitate him. Troy Gentile is Jonah Hill lite and the best of the three lead kids, but Nate Hartley has none of Michael Cera's sweet appeal and David Dorfman, he of the perpetually dark circled eyes - even when not seeing ghosts, exhibits almost as much awkward weirdness as McLovin' but none of Christopher Mintz-Plasse's comedic chops. With the exception of Lampanelli's cameo, support is nondescript.
Director Steven Brill ("Little Nicky," "Without a Paddle") brings nothing of note to the table and mistakes slapstick violence as high hilarity at every turn. "Drillbit Taylor" is first evidence of a kink in the Apatow machine.
Robin did not see this film.
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