Drillbit Taylor *** (out of ****)

Director: Steven Brill
Writers: John Hughes, Kristofor Brown, Seth Rogen
Cast: Owen Wilson, Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, David Dorfman
Rating: PG-13 (crude sexual references, strong bullying, language, drug references and partial nudity)
Running Time: 104 min
Release Date: 3/21/08

Wade (Nate Hartley) and Ryan (Troy Gentile) are off to their first day in high school. Last year they were at the top of the heap in middle school but now they are in for a tough time. Joined by their little friend Emmit (David Dorfman), they quickly encounter the brutal reality of being a nerd in high school. A senior named Filkins (Alex Frost) immediately targets them for unmerciful bullying.

Our nerdy trio does what one would expect in a teen fantasy. They decide to hire a bodyguard. However, bodyguards of the caliber that protect movie stars and other celebrities, cost far more than their allowances will provide. So they end up hiring Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), who claims to be an ex-army ranger with a lot of black ops experience. On course in this comedy we know that he is far from that. He is in fact a bum, er, homeless man, who plans to get enough money from them to by a ticket to Canada.

We are treated to one comical situation after another as Drillbit coaches his young charges in self-defense techniques and tactics only to see them fail in execution. Drillbit is never with out excuse as we would expect. Eventually, he infiltrates the school as a substitute teacher in order to get between the trio and Filkins in order to preempt between incidents of abuse that usually occur between classes.

However, things spin out of control for Drillbit when he becomes romantically involved with Lisa (Leslie Mann), an attractive and promiscuous English teacher. Lisa is convinced that although she always falls for losers, this time she had found a good man. But, Drillbit’s homeless buddies give the whole game away when they rob Wade’s home. Of course we can expect that this will all be resolved in a typical Hollywood ending.

I found Drillbit Taylor to be an enjoyable teen comedy. It’s somewhat reminiscent of last summer’s Superbad with a younger group of boys. Owen Wilson plays a loser who is nonetheless endearing. Nothing original or profound here but it’s good fun.

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