“Drillbit Taylor” (Paramount Pictures)

The Horror of High School

Judd Apatow is the man who brought us “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” “Superbad” and “Knocked Up.” His signature element is a lot of crudity encasing a sweet story. In his latest production “Drillbit Taylor” we get the sweet story but the crudity is at a minimum. How refreshing is that!

Apatow produced this movie but Steven Brill directed it. He is the man who directed Adam Sandler starrers “Mr. Deeds” and “Little Nicky.” Owen Wilson is the star of this film and plays the title role. Three teenagers – Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile and David Dorfman – play supporting roles.

In the film three ninth graders, Wade (Hartley), Ryan (Gentile) and Emmit (Dorfman), are constantly being picked on by the school bullies, Filkins (Alex Frost) and Ronnie (Jason Peck). It gets so bad that the trio decide to hire a bodyguard. The man they hire is Drillbit Taylor (Wilson), a candidate who has wowed them with his stories of being in the military and being the protector of people like Sly Stallone.

Of course Taylor is a fraud. He is actually a beach bum who aims to get money from the kids and then run away to Canada. Predictably he begins to like the kids and to feel empathy for their plight. He even infiltrates their school posing as a substitute teacher.

At the school he meets an English teacher named Lisa (Leslie Mann). She falls instantly in lust with him. Now he has to handle her and the bullies. It takes a lot of juggling but he manages to pull it off.

Wilson is perfectly cast as the ne’er do well Taylor. It is a role that fits him perfectly and he gives it dimensions and facets others could not. He is funny and heroic, and still makes Taylor an overgrown bad boy. The three kids are also good. They look like they will grow up to be the three guys from “Superbad.”

Mann, who is Mrs. Apatow in real life, is okay as the love interest. Frost and Peck make excellent bullies. Valerie Tian is adorable as the girl who catches Wade’s eye. 

The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity and crude language.

There are a lot of good messages in “Drillbit Taylor” such as being a loyal friend and standing up for yourself and others, but there is also too much profanity coming out of these kids’ mouths. I am not so naïve as to think kids this age don’t cuss but hearing it on screen seems to be an encourager.

If you are an Owen Wilson fan you will certainly enjoy this movie. He has found a role tailored to his talents. There is humor and heart in equal doses, but there is also profanity and crudity so think twice before taking the smaller kids.

I scored “Drillbit Taylor” a protected 7 out of 10.

©2008 Jackie K. Cooper