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Directed by Steven Brill
Three kids hire a low-budget bodyguard to protect them from the playground bully.
Never had I hoped for a movie to be good as I hoped for this film. It's a great concept and Owen Wilson is made for roles like this. That and it's an idea from 80's filmmaker legend John Hughes (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Breakfast Club -- using the alias of Edmond Dantès these days). Unfortunately Hughes didn't write the screenplay or direct the film, but Drillbit Taylor does have some great moments in it.
This is a film that really has two sets of main characters and story lines that merge together during moments. One set is the grade 9 kids who are getting picked on by an older bully and ruining their young lives. And the other set is aka Drillbit Taylor himself who is homeless, out of luck and needs some money so he can move away to return his good luck. The kids then search for a low-rent bodyguard to solve their bully problems and they find Drillbit Taylor.
The kids are fine and so is Owen Wilson playing the title role. But there are is one central problem in this comedy - it wasn't funny enough!
Part of making comedy is of course the writing. You must set up situations that are unique and interesting for the characters that are created. This film comes from the Judd Apatow creative team (Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad), who are on a role. But this film seems to fail in giving the audience those scenes that are memorable.
Why did this happen with such an obvious creative writing/directing/producing team?
#1 is that there really isn't an established villain. The bully beating up the kid is there, but we really never get to know him. Therefore we really don't care what happens to the kids because we really don't know how great the stakes are which doesn't lead to any good comedy. There more we care for our heroes, the more we can laugh at them and with them.
If you look back to the well done high school films, there is always the great villain --- and it's usually the teachers and/or the school Principal! There is a Principal too and a terrific actor playing him (Stephen Root), but he's wasted and really not there for any reason. You sort of wonder why they didn't make the superiors our main villain. We as an audience are always going to love our main characters more if their main antagonist is some sort of establishment. And #2 is that there really isn't any high stakes at high. Everything seems to come too easily for Drillbit sneaking into the high school and in and out of the parents homes. There are plenty of high comedy situations that just weren't taken advantage of. Even Drillbit himself hiding his true identity could of lead to some high stakes comedic moments.
These two main points equals an OK film but not a great film.
There is a classic fight scene in the end and a really cute romance between Drillbit and a teacher (played by Judd Apatow's wife). But those two good moments doesn't add up for me to be a film I can recommend.
Drillbit Taylor -2 stars out of 4!