Since 2004, no producer has created as many successful comedies as Judd Apatow. Even the great ones lay an egg and Apatow is no exception with his latest production, the unispiring and tired comedy, “Drillbit Taylor.”
The film’s setup appears to be a prequel to last summer’s hit film, “Superbad.” Two buddies, Wade (Nate Hartley) and Ryan (Troy Gentile) are preparing to enter the ninth grade. More comfortable with each other and socially inept, they start off on the wrong foot before their first day at school. Once they arrive, they immediately draw the wrath of the vicious school bully, Filkins (Ryan Frost) who proceeds to make their lives – and another young outcast, Emmit (David Dorfmann) – pure hell.
Every day the three boys sink deeper into Dante’s Circle of Hell and they decide they have to do something or they’ll never survive. Wade comes up with a solution, they’ll pool their money together and hire a bodyguard. Sensitive homeless vet, Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson) comes to the boys rescue. Living in a mini-cave up on the hills, Taylor begins each day showering nude on the beach and proceeds to kick it with his homeless posse who pass the time ripping each other off and eating the most disgusting things. Taylor sees the boys as a way to make a quick score and follow his dream to move Canada. All he needs is $387, which is where the boys come in.
In no time flat he is teaching the boys how to defend themselves, while stealing items from Wade’s house and pawning them. Taylor even masquerades as a subsitute teacher at their school to keep a closer eye on the boys. Soon his cover is blown and he has to make a decision to venture to Canada or help his new found misfit friends.
While the setup is pretty good, the film breaks down because it lacks the substantive humor central to many of Apatow’s earlier hits. Don’t get me wrong, there are funny moments in the film, but not enough to warrant spending full admission. Much of the problem arises from the threesomes inability to stand up for themselves and their tormentor taking too much advantage of them. Wilson’s Taylor is an unconvincing comic foil who spends too much of his time casually underachieving through the majority of the film.
Full of phony sentiments and a lead character who is neither likable or funny, “Drillbit Taylor” is the least enjoyable of Apatow’s recent films. This “Supersad” ripoff shows that going to the comedic well once to often, you may come up dry.