He’s a bit of a tool

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film Reviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

DRILL­BIT TAY­LOR Di­rected by Steven Brill. Star­ring Owen Wil­son, Les­lie Mann, David Dorf­man, Troy Gen­tile, Nate Hart­ley, Alex Frost TBC cert, gen re­lease, 102 min

HAS the Judd Apa­tow Con­fed­er­a­tion al­ready out­stayed its wel­come? Pro­duced by Apa­tow and writ­ten by Seth Ro­gen, Apa­tow’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive on earth, Drill­bit Tay­lor con­tin­ues the back­wards tra­jec­tory started by Knocked Up (adult dweebs) and con­tin­ued by Su­per­bad (older teenage dweebs) to of­fer us a rel­a­tively clean com­edy fea­tur­ing pubescent dweebs. As be­fore, one of the char­ac­ters is fat, Jewish and curly of hair. As be­fore, none of the char­ac­ters knows how to speak to girls. Un­like the pre­vi­ous pic­tures, how­ever, Drill­bit Tay­lor is so stub­bornly hu­mour­less you will find your­self yearn­ing to take it be­hind the bike shed and give it a good kick­ing.

This is the sort of treat­ment meted out daily to fat kid (Troy Gen­tile) and specky kid (Nate Hart­ley) by an older bully in their Cal­i­for­nian high school. Re­luc­tantly join­ing forces with an even less as­sertive nerd (David Dorf­man), the lads de­cide to hire an adult body­guard to lead them safely about the cor­ri­dors.

With only lim­ited funds to hand, they are forced to re­ject the var­i­ous hard-nuts who ap­ply and settle for a home­less hus­tler played by good old Owen Wil­son. Af­ter help­ing him­self to the boys’ loose change, Drill­bit be­gins to warm to school life and de­cides to pose as a teacher. Hi­lar­i­ous mis­un­der­stand­ings loom.

This is the sort of sce­nario that John Hughes – a less funky, but more dis­ci­plined im­pre­sario than Apa­tow – might have turned into an ac­cept­able en­ter­tain­ment in the Rea­gan years. Sadly, the film is far too loosely con­structed for its own good. De­prived of any­thing like a plot, it flaps about hope­lessly like a wet fish dy­ing on a blunt spear. No­body does feck­less charm bet­ter than Wil­son, but charm alone can­not en­liven such a weight­less, struc­ture-free en­ter­tain­ment.

Did the dog eat your home­work, Judd? Have you been stay­ing up late play­ing video games? It’s time you and your crew got down to some hard work. A smart mouth will only get you so far in life.

Con­fed­er­ate dunce: Owen Wil­son plays kid­dy­guard to three bul­lied school­boys

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