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"Drillbit Taylor"
Wayne A. Klein
Studio: Dreamworks Home Video
Genre: Comedy
Special Features: Commentary track, deleted scenes, gag reel, Line-O-Rama, The Writers Get A Chance to Talk featurette, Bullying, The Real Don, Rap Off, trailers/previews

Steve Martin once said comedy ain't pretty. He wasn't joking. In the case of "Drillbit Taylor" I guess you could call this a "plain Jane" comedy. In other words, if you slap a bit of make up on it and put it in a pretty dress (tight fitting jeans), it might be called somewhat attractive but hardly memorable in a crowded bar of other entertainment. It's a pity because since this was the first film that the talented Owen Wilson made after his train wreck romance with Kate Hudson came to a halt, I had hoped for something better that would make audiences forget what happened to Wilson in 2008. ***

Producer/writer/director Judd Apatow has quickly taken the comic smarts that made his films so fresh and vital (and some would say offensive) and turned them into little more than factory "product". Wilson plays the title homeless veteran who gives a group of nerds (David Drofman, Troy Gentile and Nate Hartley) in high school lessons that should turn around their lives from eating crow at the hands of bullies to kings of the hill. Instead, the boys flouder worse than before because they fought back. Taylor masquerades as a subsitute teacher at the boys high school to keep an eye on them and stop the bullying before it starts as he's taken a liking to them. He's also taken a liking to one of the teachers in the high school (Leslie Mann married to producer Apatow and an actress who always brings charm to any project she's in) until his true identity leaks out. ***

I really wanted to like "Drillbit Taylor". It's got an appealing "fish-out-of-water" story that has a unique angle on it. Wilson gives it his all as well but he and Mann are let down by the material which seems as if it was taken from the blueprints for every other Apatow comedy we've seen come down the line in the last two years. Writer/actor Seth Rogan is also partially to blame here as well. He uses every trick that he's used before in his other films which might explain the tone of familarity. The other half of the blame lands squarely on Apatow and the director of "Drillbit Taylor" Steve Brill who also directed the decidely unfunny "Little Nicky". Characters are poorly developed and the comedic bits (even the ones that might be fresh)seem tired and uninspired. Using the homeless characters that are Taylor's friends and developing them so poorly reeks of what I'd expect from a standard deriviative Hollywood comedy. ---

Image & Sound:

"Drillbit Taylor" looks as machine sharp as any mass produced product for the cinema does today. Colors are solid throughout and sharpness quite good as well. The 5.1 audio only comes to life during the more action based sequences but sounds solid throughout as well. ---

Special Features:

Brill appears with the film's co-writer Kristofer Brown along with the three teen actors in the film. It's an engaging and lively commentary track. ***

"The Writers Get A Chance to Talk" features co-writers Rogan and Brown discussing their project. I suspect they both know that something went wrong and they hint at it but never come out and say the film just doesn't work. ***

We also get deleted/extended scenes, "Bullying" a brief featurette that follows the actors playing the bullies in the film on set and "Directing Kids" that allows Brill to talk about his work with the kids. We also get "The Real Don" which focuses on actor/writer Danny McBride the star of "Foot Fist Way" who co-stars in the film as Drillbit's friend. ***

Finally "Line-O-Rama" and the gag reel wrap things up. THe former has been used before on other Apatow films and focuses on various lines from the film delivered in a variety of styles and improvs from the set

Final Words:

"Drillbit Taylor" is an underachiever. It has a great premise, comes from a successful producer/writers and has a stellar cast but the film just doesn't gel. It's too bad because the premise and Wilson are both top notch. If there's nothing else new the week this comes out that you want to see, "Drillbit Taylor" might be one you could rent. Might.


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