"Drillbit Taylor" isn't the worst film I've ever seen or the worst film I've seen this year, but it's a film that clearly found its way into production and into theatres thanks to producer Judd Apatow and writer Seth Rogen (John Hughes - credited as Edmond Dantes - gets story credit.) At its core, this is really nothing too far beyond a thinly plotted afterschool special - and, in the case of the extended edition - one that is stretched out to nearly two hours.
The story couldn't be more simple: three kids - skinny Wade (Nate Hartley), overweight Ryan (Troy Gentile), and tiny Emmitt (David Dorfman - the kid from "The Ring" movies) become the constant target of senior bully Filkins (Alex Frost). After a few days of taking abuse, they decide to head out and hire a bodyguard, but can only afford Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), a homeless guy who's trying to raise enough money to head to Canada. When he heads to Wade's house to try and plan a way to confront Filkins, he steals a bagful of items that he can use for "security purposes", but instead heads with the contents to the nearest pawn shop.
While Drillbit intends to sell some of their stuff and leave town, it's no surprise that he starts to feel bad for the kids - and even winds up with a romantic interest in English teacher Lisa (Leslie Mann). However, when faced with actually standing up to Filkins and trying to protect the kids, he doesn't exactly fare well.
The movie is essentially two hours of the kids getting bullied and Drillbit trying to change his ways. It's predictable and it definitely doesn't need a running time beyond 85 minutes or so. What manages to elevate the bland, forgettable story are the enjoyable performances from the kids and the decent performance from Wilson. Additionally, while the story isn't anything to write home about, there's a few memorable lines scattered throughout the picture.
Overall though, there's just not enough movie here, as the picture's thin story becomes repetitive. While the performances fare reasonably well, this stands as the first stumble for Apatow.
VIDEO: "Drillbit Taylor" is presented by Paramount Home Entertainment in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is generally an above-average transfer from the studio, with pleasing sharpness and detail throughout most of the film. A few touches of edge enhancement and a couple of minor instances of artifacting appear, but the picture otherwise remains bright, crisp and smooth. Colors looked bright and bold, with very nice saturation and no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was exactly what one would expect from a "comedy" presentation, with the rear speakers only used for some minor reinforcement of the music and a few instances of ambience. The film's score/soundtrack sounded punchy and rich, especially the popular songs scattered throughout the movie. Dialogue also remained crisp and clean.
EXTRAS: Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley, and David Dorfman are joined by director Steven Brill and co-writer/producer Kristofor Brown for an audio commentary. The commentary offers some moderate laughs and some decent tidbits of information, as the cast and crew seem to be having fun sharing stories from the set and cracking jokes. We also get "The Writers Get a Chance to Talk" featurette, 13 deleted scenes, a gag reel and a reel of alternate takes. This "extended edition" offers a few additional featurettes, including: "Rap Off", "Sprinkler Day", "Bully", "Directing Kids" and "The Real Don".
Final Thoughts:Overall, there's just not enough movie here, as the picture's thin story becomes repetitive. While the performances fare reasonably well, this stands as the first stumble for Apatow. The DVD set offers very good audio/video quality and a fine set of supplemental features, but the movie still remains a rental.
The Film C