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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Drillbit Taylor

When three high school freshmen become the target of some particularly vicious bullies, they're forced to hire a bodyguard to help them make it through the day. Unfortunately, the bodyguard they hire is a homeless army deserter more interested in milking them for all their cash then bailing to Canada than taking on the bullies. It's not exactly the comedy set-up of the year - unless that year is 1983 - but Drillbit Taylor manages to not only avoid the stench of a lame 80's teen comedy but stand up as a funny film in it's own right thanks to a couple of winning factors. Firstly, the trio of victims - fat would-be white rapper Ryan (Troy Gentile), super-skinny glasses guy Wade (Nate Hartley) and creepy midget Emmit (David Dorfman) - are really nerdy. As in, actually real-life nerdy, not Hollywood 's idea of nerdy (which is still amazingly cool) nerdy. So it's easy to see why they're getting picked on, and as they're nice (and funny) guys, we feel their pain. We also feel their pain because the bullies are really, really nasty. As in, they'd kill you with their bare hands and laugh while doing it nasty. So hiring a bodyguard seems like a logical response. And then there's Owen Wilson as Drillbit, as charming and as funny as ever, making a fairly scuzzy character seem like a great guy you'd want to hang out with even when he's doing things wrong. He's even able to make Drillbit's inevitable change of heart seem like more than just the usual lame plot twist. In short, the many funny jokes are grounded in what feels like reality: if you've ever been bullied (and who hasn't), then you'll get a lot of laughs out of this one.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #422)

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