Drillbit Taylor

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Drillbit Taylor
Review (4/10)
(By Erin Cullin)

Last summer, Superbad, the film based upon a screenplay by Canadian Seth Rogen invaded theaters to become the runaway hit of the summer. It brought actor Jonah Hill onto the Hollywood radar and it forever immortalized the name "McLovin" in the annals of teen film history.

This spring, Seth Rogen has attempted to translate the same film formula into an onscreen success. Three "outsiders" - one portly, one gangly, and one short and squeaky - attempt to transcend the high school caste system. Unfortunately, the result is not Superbad, but is instead simply bad, period.

Drillbit Taylor tells the story of Ryan (Troy Gentile) and Wade (Nate Hartley), two high school students who attempt to discard the cloak of unpopularity as they commence their freshman year. Their plan is derailed when Wade intervenes as the school bullies, Filkins (Alex Frost) and Ronnie (Josh Peck), stuff another freshman, Emmit (David Dorfman), into a locker. After Wade's heroism lands he and Ryan in the crosshairs of the terror twins, they decide to retain the services of a "bodyguard" to protect them. With their limited resources, the best that they can afford are the services of Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), an former army veteran with a questionable background. Will the boys thrive under Drillbit's protective wing, or will his shady past imperil them all?

After watching Superbad and now Drillbit Taylor, I am beginning to believe that Seth Rogen must have been tormented throughout his childhood. The story of the portly boy who longs to fit in, but who masks the pain of rejection with false bravado and an acidic wit has become so thematic in his films that it must have some basis in truth.

But, factual or not, neither Seth Rogen's experience in the theater of film nor in the theater of life was enough to save Drillbit Taylor from becoming another tired, stereotypical teen flick. So stereotypical, in fact, that even Adam Baldwin, who played Linderman the teen "bodyguard" in the 1980 film, My Bodyguard, stopped in for a cameo appearance.

Where Superbad was a film which succeeded because of its risque originality, Drillbit Taylor is a film which fails because of its uninspired stereotyping.

Owen Wilson delivers the same deadpan performance that works in films with superior screenplays (The Royal Tenenbaums), but that seems to be an exercise in sleepwalking with this lesser material. While Troy Gentile and Nate Hartley actually perform reasonably well in their respective roles, David Dorfman, with all due respect, is no McLovin. In combination, the staid screenplay and the lackluster performances form a coffin with one too many nails in it.

Drillbit Taylor is a bump in the otherwise smooth road that Seth Rogen has travelled on his runaway train to stardom. It had to come sometime. I just hope, for his sake, that this summer's Pineapple Express will be the vehicle that will bring him back from the detour and onto the expressway.

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