Drillbit Taylor review

Need a bodyguard to protect you from a bully? Who you gonna call? The scary ex-Israeli military guy? The track-suited bouncer who guarded some of the hardest rappers in the world? The square-jawed American hero who took bullets for a president? Or broken-nosed, Frat Pack lothario Owen Wilson? If you’re the cash-strapped kids in Drillbit Taylor you’re stuck with Wilson, an actor whose action movie experience amounts to playing Dean Martin to Jackie Chan’s Jerry Lewis in the Shanghai Noon movies. This guy definitely doesn’t know kung fu. But apparently he does know, er, Mexican judo...

Another month, another US comedy with writer/director/producer Judd Apatow’s sticky paws all over it. In a lightweight companion to Superbad, Knocked Up and the rest of the current comedy crop, director Steven Brill enlists Wilson as the down-on-his-luck homeless army vet paid to protect Ryan (roly-poly teen Troy Gentile) and Wade (Nate Hartley, a skinny Skeletor lookalike) from vicious high-school bully Filkins (Alex Frost). Infiltrating the centre of learning using his expertise at stealthy covert ops, the soldier of fortune disguises himself as a supply teacher and protects the boys like a one-man A-Team. “You know what this is?” he asks the kids, lifting an arm, “It’s my wing. And you’re now under it.”

So, a loser hero and plenty of high school hi-jinks. Yep, this is definitely a formulaic Apatow flick just a little lighter on the laughs than usual... Still, there’s a great turn from Gentile, with his rap battle against the school bully proving him hilariously fly for a white (fat) guy. Apatow fave Jonah Hill better watch his back...

The real draw, though, is the ever likeable, ever schmoozy Wilson. The role could have been written for him: egotistical, laid-back and armed with the zonked vacancy of a true stoner. He may know very little about covert ops but he is adept at chatting up Leslie Mann’s pretty English teacher (“English?” Wilson drawls with a twinkle that could divest most ladies of their underwear at 30 paces. “It’s my native tongue.”). In the end, it’s his charmingly shambolic man-child schtick that gives Drillbit its modest comic bite.

It's not Superbad (and definitely not supergood) but this throwaway romp teases out some laughs as its Frat Pack star heads back to the classroom. Drillbit could try harder but it's definitely not a candidate for exclusion.

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