This review is brought to you courtesy of Richard, who got selected as part of a test audience, and graciously pulled me along for a trip into the unknown. It could've been Son of Rambow (his choice), Iron Man, Indiana Jones (my choice in wishful thinking), or even Wanted, but it turned out to be Drillbit Taylor, which was one of the choices we toyed with, but thought that all Summer based movies should have less of a chance in being screened.
I think it's obvious to note by now that Team Apatow is on a roll in recent years with their brand of comedy, which is probably a much needed injection, personally, to the genre after Mike Myers left us hanging when he delivered his Goldmember. Out and out comedies of late have been touching on the usual material like teenage sexcapades and loads of deliberate spoofs of pop culture and movie genres, which Apatow and team also dabbles in, but somehow it hinged on the simple things that mattered, such as the timing of punchlines.
In most parts, Drillbit Taylor seemed like Superbad all over again, right down to the characters that inhabit the movie. You have the usual nerds in trouble, and more so, with a Laurel and Hardy style in pairing someone chubby with a motor-mouth, and the skinny, silent type. Coming from well-to-do families, good friends Ryan (Troy Gentile) and Wade (Nate Hartley) are into their first day of high school, where given their nerdy behaviour, are instant fodder for the resident school bullies.
Despite the refreshing unknowns having the meatier and more interesting roles, Owen Wilson stars as the titular character, a homeless and aimless drifter who showers at public baths and makes money from asking for donations on the streets. In fact, Owen Wilson is just being, Owen Wilson, with all the smart wisecracks spewed when imparting self-defense knowledge to his employers, the children, in a bid to not give them the fish, but to teach them to fish, i.e. defend themselves from bullies. Naturally he's no black ops person, and there's little wonder how his methods turn out to be backfiring most of the time.
Which is in fact a pity. There are some genuinely funny moments, but these stem from scenes where Wilson was not a part of, because his story got entrenched into some romance with impossibility looming over the horizon, But the funnier scenes are also mostly a throwback to similar material already experienced in Superbad, minus the sexually implicit / explicit scenes of course, with the banter between Ryan and Wade, and the little snarky comments that Ryan makes, which you probably have to pay attention to as they come quite fast and furious.
Other than that, Drillbit Taylor is pretty formulaic in how the story develops and concludes, which is an exercise in the value and treasuring of friendship, camaraderie, and having some backbone to stand up to those who have an inkling of stepping all over you. Oh, and Owen Wilson's nose really was quite prominently crooked in the movie, I can't help but to gawk at it!