DRILLBIT TAYLOR Directed by Steven Brill. 101 minutes. Rating: N
It looks like Judd Apatow wants to be the John Hughes of his generation, with a production empire made up of pals and honored guests, a savvy box-office sensibility, and a meteoric rise to prominence followed by a slow, awful spiral into irrelevance. And Hughes seems to be helping him embrace that destiny – he co-wrote the story for Drillbit Taylor under the pseudonym Edmond Dantes.
Drillbit Taylor finds producer Apatow and co-writer Seth Rogen doing a little double-dipping, spinning off the bullying subplot from last year’s Superbad, padding it out with chunks of My Bodyguard, The School of Rock and Risky Business and calling it a feature film.
As in Superbad, three kids – a fat, angry one (Troy Gentile), a thin, lovesick one (Nate Hartley) and a clinging uber-geek (David Dorfman, Naomi Watts’ weird kid from The Ring) – have a crappy time at high school. When they’re targeted by bullies and the grown-ups won’t help, they put out an online tender for a bodyguard, which is answered by shiftless drifter Drillbit (Owen Wilson), who offers protection while plotting to rob them blind.
Yes, the flickering images on the screen – synchronized to sound, even! – make up a movie. But it’s so indifferently written and sloppily produced that you can’t possibly enjoy or appreciate anything that happens in it, except possibly the moment when Adam Baldwin, who played the bully in My Bodyguard, pops up as one of the kids’ potential protectors.
It’s as if Apatow and Rogen want to punish the people who didn’t appreciate the tenderness and anger at the heart of Superbad by showing them what a genuinely awful high-school movie looks like. For the love of god, Owen Wilson co-wrote Rushmore! What the hell is he doing is he doing in this hideous thing?