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March 26, 2008

FILM REVIEW: Drillbit Taylor Needs More Grounding, Less Silliness


By Nathaniel Shockey

Steven Brill’s Drillbit Taylor is not horrendous. But it is a far cry from anything Judd Apatow has ever directed, which I wouldn’t mention, except that this movie seems to be aiming for the same genre. Judd Apatow is one of this movie’s producers, which is why the movie is advertised as coming “from the producers of Knocked Up and Superbad”. You get the feeling that Judd Apatow is just trying to help out his friends by adhering himself to this movie. After all, Seth Rogen is one of the writers.


The movie just didn’t have much going for it. It was too silly for too long and I didn’t really care about the characters until about three quarters of the way in.


The main problem is that the movie is never grounded. Kids need adults around – sane adults, normal adults, believable adults. But there aren’t any in this movie with prominent enough roles to make the audience feel like anything really matters. The adults don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to act like adults. Perhaps the best example of this is Robin William’s character in Good Will Hunting. He exploited the messiness of all the conflict in the movie, and it gave the movie a much deeper meaning. But if you’ve ever seen Kids, which you shouldn’t see because you’ll want to get into a tub with a curling iron afterward, you’ll feel torturous because there weren’t any adults around to keep things sane (which was the movie’s point, and it proved it effectively).


But if you’re going to have a movie with no real grounding, it should, at the very least, be believable. Drillbit Taylor isn’t, and it is also not quite silly enough to pass as a Blades of Glory or practically any of Will Ferrell’s silly movies.


A couple of other gripes: There’s this evasive third dorky musketeer in the movie called “Emmit” who pledges his allegiance to the gang after Wade (one of the main dorks) saves him from getting stuck in a tiny locker. He’s an odd character, not in the sense of his personality, but in the sense of the character not really having a point. Near the end of the movie, he leaves the gang because Wade challenges the main bully to a fight, and Emmit is apparently a pacifist. He runs away in one of those moments that made me ask, “What just happened?” and it didn’t make any sense until he makes a grand entrance to the climactic (and way too violent) battle royale at the end of the movie. It really seems like Emmit’s only purpose is to initially get the two main dorks in trouble and eventually crash the fight at the end of the movie, which is also strange. I don’t think it was the fault of the actor, David Dorfman, as much as the swing-and-miss writing.


To make matters worse, it seems to steal another movie’s idea. Drillbit Taylor is a thief, and his main plan is to steal from the rich kid dorks, but it all unravels when the dorks find Taylor’s robber friends robbing one of their houses. Taylor feels awful at this point, and his robber friends are completely disappointed with him for going soft. I was sure I was watching a lousy version of the scene where Greg Kinnear gets severely beaten in As Good As It Gets.


I did laugh audibly several times. Owen Wilson is sometimes funny, and I think it might be a good idea to just call his character “Owen Wilson” in any movie he’s ever in, or maybe “Hansel,” the sole exception being any time he is the voice of an animated car.


The two main kids are amusing and handle their roles well, especially Troy Gentile, who plays Ryan. He’s very funny, and I didn’t even realize he was the kid who played the young “JB” in Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny until I looked it up. Nate Hartley never really captures any scenes like his counterpart, but he is still engaging. I could have sworn I caught him cracking up at Owen Wilson during the scene when Drillbit is auditioning to be their bodyguard, even though he is supposed to appear nervous. I could be wrong about that, but I don’t plan on watching the movie again to figure it out.


If you never see this movie, you won’t be missing much. But still, it’s silly and often funny. I’d consider it a renter, but that might be a little generous.


2 stars out of 5


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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