Owen Wilson is a funny guy. He seems nice too. He strikes me as the kind of fellow that would be cool to have around for almost anything–parties, barbeque’s and holidays. I enjoy watching his films, but I continue to be amazed that Hollywood executives keep offering him sub-par material. Wilson has had exceptions with films like 2005’s Wedding Crashers, but unfortunately for him, Wilson’s resume is top heavy with such forgettable fair as The Darjeeling Limited, You, Me and Dupree, Around the World in 80 Days and I Spy among others.
The thing about Owen Wilson’s films is that they are rarely absolutely terrible, it’s just that their not very good either. The film is usually worth a few good laughs, but the story itself is a bit disjointed and easily forgotten. When I saw that Judd Apatow, the guy that gave us The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Super Bad co-produced Drillbit Taylor and Seth Rogen who worked with Aptow on Knocked Up and Super Bad wrote the script for Drillbit, I thought maybe Owen Wilson finally had a film worthy of his talents. Sadly, that just wasn’t meant to be.
In the relatively short time Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen have been major players in the film industry, critics have applauded them for their originality and fresh take on comedy. Unfortunately for Owen Wilson and his movie Drillbit Taylor, Apatow and Rogen were anything but original. They clearly took their idea for Drillbit from 1980’s My Bodyguard, because the premise for Drillbit undoubtedly came from the older film. They even give a shout out to My Bodyguard by having one of its stars, Adam Baldwin, Do a cameo in Drillbit.
In this updated version, an eighteen-year-old high school bully, Terry Filkins (Alex Frost), relentlessly tormenting two freshmen, Wade (Nate Hartley) and Ryan (Troy Gentile) who try everything they can think of to deal with the situation on their own. In desperation, the two friends decide to pool their meager resources and hire a bodyguard. After interviewing various candidates, they hire Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), in part, because he agrees to start work for the $83 the boys have to offer.
Now this is where the fun is supposed to start; A laugh a minute. Unfortunately, this is where Apatow and friends seemed to stop following the premise of My Bodyguard. While the 1980 film was full of humor and fun, Drillbit Taylor seems mean-spirited, cruel and not very funny.
The main reason Drillbit Taylor isn’t funny is because all the characters are total losers. I know it’s not fair to make a blanket statement like that, so let me break it down. Drillbit is literally a bum. He lives on the beach and supports himself by panhandling on the highway. When he answers the boys’ ad for a bodyguard, he tells them he was a former Army Ranger, trained to kill. Drillbit is really nothing more than a liar and a two-bit thief, but it’s easy to look heroic in the eyes of a couple of gullible, terrified, young kids. I’m sure the filmmakers thought that Drillbit’s charisma and oddball charm would win audiences over, but that tactic fails miserably. It is so obvious from the beginning that Drillbit only cares about himself, that no amount of rehabilitation makes him more likeable.
The filmmakers have also chosen to create a story that has little or no grounding in reality. Filkins is more than a bully. It seems as though he is a total psychopath, whose main goal in life is to torture these boys. Further, Filkins is what the film calls an “emancipated” minor, meaning he is living alone while his parents are in Hong Kong, and he has no one to answer to. He lives alone in a fancy house and owns a big, black SUV with which he chases the kids around the neighborhood. Lots of people see this bully torturing these kids but not one school official comes to their defense.
To watch over his “clients,” Drillbit infiltrates the school by posing as a substitute teacher, and nobody questions him about who he is, or how he came to be there. You’ve probably got the picture now. Drillbit Taylor is a tiresome story with surprisingly cruel overtones.
The Blu-ray is presented in a 1080p, VC-1, BD50 transfer and the color palette is surprisingly dull. The audio is presented in lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1, but the film is dialogue driven, so audio quality isn’t a huge issue.
Drillbit Taylor – Extended Survival Edition has quite a few bonus features. First, is the standard audio commentary by the director, Steven Brill, one of the co-writers, Kristofor Brown, and actors Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley, and David Dorfman. Then a featurette titled, “”The Writers Get a Chance to Talk,” where we hear from Kristofor Brown again and Seth Rogen. This is all pretty standard stuff and not particularly riveting. The release also includes a selection of extended and deleted scenes, in high-definition widescreen.
In addition, there is a feature called “Line-O-Rama,” which gives the viewer a few minutes of additional dialogue followed by a short gag reel. There are also a series of short featurettes that only a true fan of this film could love; “Panhandle,” “Rap Off,” “Bully,” “Sprinkler Day,” “Directing Kids,” “The Real Dan: Danny McBride,” and others.
Drillbit Taylor – Extended Survival Edition has English, French, and Spanish spoken languages and subtitles, with English captions for the hearing impaired.
View Drillbit Taylor production stills.
View the trailer.