Drillbit Taylor: Extended Survival Edition
R1 - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (29th June 2008).
The Film

Judd Apatow is building an empire, producing and sometimes writing/directing, comedies that seem to be coming out with every major movie season. Though the movies with his name somewhere on them have been hit or miss for me, “Drillbit Taylor” (2008), the latest part in the Apatow comedy takeover is the first to hit in the middle.

The initial plot is almost “Superbad” (2007): The Freshman Years. Tall lanky and awkward Wade (Nate Hartley) is best friends with shorter, fatter, but more loudmouthed Ryan (Troy Gentile). Ryan and Wade are about to start high school, but on the first day they wind up being bullied after Wade tells some bullies to stop hassling gangly super-nerd McLovin Emmett (David Dorfman). This of course, along with some bad wardrobe choices, gets them into a cycle of bullying that they can’t escape. The logical step for these rich teenage suburbanites is to hire a bodyguard Owen Wilson (Drillbit Taylor). I mean Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson).

Beyond the basic setup, it doesn’t stick to the “Superbad” formula, but does follow something Judd Apatow produced comedies tend to do: try to make you bond to the characters, pull some heartstrings and wind up with a (spoiler alert) happy ending. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same success as the characters aren’t nearly as endearing. When the problem moment plot point of the movie, where seem things to be going downhill for Drillbit and the protagonist trio, the course correction to make everything better is easy to see.

Acting wise, Owen Wilson plays Owen Wilson, says wacky things in a confident-calm voice and gives bad advice that he tries to make sound like good advice. Sometimes this works really well, but it’s only okay for Drillbit Taylor. The story’s a little too cheesy for his character to make a difference, but it’s mostly about the friends Ryan, Wade and Emmett, despite the movie being named for the Owen Wilson character. These two best friends and their uber-nerd compatriot are fine in some of their scenes, but stumble over others, making it a little unbalanced and overall just aren’t as good as actors as their “Superbad” counterparts either.

Holding them up to match Michael Cera or Jonah Hill seems a little unfair, but the characters are constructed so similarly, writers Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown have made it fairly difficult not to. I like what I’ve seen of both writers and they’ve done good work on other Apatow products, but it seems like they’re grinding the movie out. They may be busy with other Apatow projects, but they could have put a little more time into it. There are some good jokes in the movie, but there are some lines that just don’t get delivered very well and Wilson’s improvised lines stand out strongly from the script. The story drags through the movie and can get kind of choppy, which may be a result from the extended cut, but the plot is so predictable that it doesn’t help the already poor pacing.

There are also a couple of cameos that are worth mentioning: first, the cameo by Shaun Weiss, also known as Goldberg the Goalie from the “Mighty Ducks” movies (1992-1996) that director Steven Brill was also in charge of, as the school bus driver. There’s also a cameo by Adam Baldwin in the bodyguard interview montage which I enjoyed; they don’t make the movie better, but are good for some laughs and shouts of “that’s the guy from…”

Overall, “Drillbit Taylor” it doesn’t deliver on a lot of the comedy potential in the writers and the actors are just okay, but there are a few funny moments. However, because of the way the characters are written so closely to their “Superbad” counterparts, all the scenes without Wilson feel like they could have been its direct-to-dvd, PG-13, prequel.

Video

“Drillbit Taylor” is presented a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio and looks visually good. The transfer is clean and crisp and does exactly what it needs to do, the colors all come through on the right levels. There’s nothing special about the directing, but with a comedy like this it mainly lets the actors tell their lines and show the prime plot moments and doesn’t get too much in the way.

Audio

There are tracks in English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. The 5.1 Dolby Digital surround audio sounds good for the movie, there’s not a lot of cinematic sound effects, it mostly sounds exactly like it should sound. What’s there is good, the dolby digital sound comes through pretty clearly, the only frustrating thing with the sound is the audio levels between the disc menu’s and the rest of the film, but this problem isn’t unique or a reaction to the movie itself.
There are also optional English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

“Drillbit Taylor” dubs itself the 'Extended Survival Edition' and has a good amount of bonus features to back up the title including an audio commentary, deleted scenes, some featurettes and bonus trailers. Below is a closer look.

The audio commentary features director Steven Brill, co-writer Kristofor Brown, and actors Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley and David Dorfman. The commentary is slow to get started and has some long awkward pauses, but the young actors make their way into the commentary one by one and it gets a bit livelier. The kids are nearly the same people they are in the film, but more outgoing, though Dorfman’s voice gets a little grating at times.

Next is “The Writers Get a Chance to Talk” featurette which runs for 13 minutes and 59 seconds and is a conference-call conversation between Seth Rogen and Brown accompanied by on set pictures. It’s good that Rogen got a chance to talk somewhere on the DVD, and it’s fairly funny, gives some good insight into what the script could have been and how the studio influenced the final product.

There’s a fair amount of deleted and extended scenes:

- “Urinal assault” runs for 41 seconds, an extended bullying scene in the urinals.
- “Sidewalk Café” runs for 2 minutes and 14 seconds, an extended scene of Drillbit and his homeless friends hanging around outside a restaurant.
- “Bulking Up” runs for 55 seconds, an extended the three high school kids having lunch with Drillbit.
- “Bodyguard ‘D’” runs for 1 minute and 50 seconds, an interview with one of the bodyguards.
- “Bodyguard ‘Frank’” runs for 1 minute and 56 seconds, another interview with another one of the bodyguards.
- “Massage Chair” runs for 59 seconds, Drillbit tries out a massage chair.
- “Training – Pool 1” runs for 1 minute and 1 second, Drillbit trains and tell stories poolside.
- “Detention” runs for 51 seconds, Drillbit tries to keep one of the bullies in detention.
- “Don Teaches History” runs for 1 minute and 37 seconds, one of Drillbit’s friends improvises the history of the United States.
- “Pawn Shop – Night” runs for 38 seconds, Drillbit tries to get the stuff back from the pawn shop.
- “Wade Family Dinner” runs for 1 minute and 50 seconds, an extended scene of Wade having dinner with his family.
- “Drillbit Teaches Gym” runs for 1 minute and 35 seconds, an extended montage of Drillbit teaching gym.
- “Nurse’s Office” runs for 54 seconds, Drillbit runs to get some medical help after he gets hit.

Then there's the “Line-o-Rama” featurette and runs for 4 minutes and 26 seconds and is made of a bunch of unused improvised lines, some are funny, but you can see why a lot of them went unused.

The gag reel runs for 4 minutes and 7 seconds and is a typical blooper reel: falls, laughs and flubs.

The “Rap Off” featurette runs for 3 minutes and 37 seconds shows Alex Frost and Troy Gentile working with a rap tutor to get ready for the rap battle scene in the movie and during filming.

“Sprinkler Day” runs for 3 minutes and 27 seconds, this featurette shows actor Josh Peck and stage crew getting ready to film the scene where Drillbit sets off the fire alarm.

The “Bully” featurette runs for 3 minutes and 2 seconds, Frost and Peck talk about being the bullies, some behind the scenes of the actual bullying.

“Directing Kids” runs for 3 minutes and 3 seconds, this featurette is mostly the director talking about working with the kids in the movie with some behind the scenes footage of him directing the kids.

“The Real Don: Danny McBridefeaturette runs for 5 minutes and 47 seconds shows McBride talking about himself and his character behind the scenes along with some of the makeup to make him look homeless.

Finally there are some bonus trailers for:

- “Star Trek” runs for 1 minute and 23 seconds.
- “Iron Man” runs for 2 minutes and 35 seconds.
- “The Spiderwick Chronicles” runs for 2 minutes and 32 seconds.

Overall

The Film: C- Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: B Overall: B-

 


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