â€œDrillbit Taylorâ€ is a worthless comedy that hates its characters and insults its audience.
Letâ€™s start with the â€œinsults its audienceâ€ part: Itâ€™s designed to take your money and waste your time, nothing more. Itâ€™d be wrong to describe it as â€œmisguided,â€ since that would suggest that it wants to entertain you in the first place.
Whoâ€™d pay to see this? Actually, lots of people went to see it when it opened in theaters last year. Maybe they were asking for it â€“ itâ€™s not a good sign when the ads say â€œYou get what you pay for.â€
Thereâ€™s something else in the ads, though. Something crafty and exploitive. It could be the line about it being made by â€œthe guys that brought you â€˜Knocked Upâ€™ and â€˜Superbad,â€™â€ which suggests that itâ€™s just as good. Yes, â€œKnocked Upâ€ actor Seth Rogen â€“ who doesnâ€™t appear in this movie, by the way â€“ participated in this mess (he co-wrote it), but so what if he did? This isnâ€™t his style. Rogen also wrote â€œSuperbadâ€ with Evan Goldberg â€“ itâ€™s one of the best pictures of last year.
Rent that instead.
Anyway, Owen Wilson plays Drillbit Taylor, a beggar who manipulates strangers for easy money. Heâ€™s dirty, dishonest, shallow and wicked â€“ he lies about being a war hero to seduce money out of everybody in town. (He served one day and went AWOL.) Heâ€™ll do anything for money, like hustle tourists for spare change. When heâ€™s with his friends, he talks about his desperate get-rich-quick schemes, like winning the lottery and running off to Canada.
He strikes the mother lode when he goes online (on a strangerâ€™s laptop) and reads about three kids named Wade (Nate Hartley), Ryan (Troy Gentile) and Emmit (David Dorfman). Theyâ€™re worried about being picked on in school by a couple of bullies named Filkins (Alex Frost) and Ronnie (Josh Peck), and they need help fighting back. Drillbit agrees to work with them â€“ he charges $387 a week. He cons them with a fictional rÃ©sumÃ©: â€œAs a bodyguard, I protected three vice presidents, Bobby Brown and Sylvester Stallone. Not quite as tough as he looks.â€ They hire him in a second. Foolishly.
What weâ€™ve got here is a good actor victimized by a bad story. Wilson smiles gamely throughout the movie, all while drowning in a river of stupidity and unpleasantness. You suspect that he hates this movie more than we do, especially with this kind of dialogue:
â€œWhatâ€™s the Army always say? â€˜Have It Your Way,â€™â€ Drillbit says.
â€œI think thatâ€™s Burger King,â€ responds Wade.
Worst of all, heâ€™s not the only one. Celebrities like Lisa Lampanelli, Chuck Liddell and Cedric Yarbrough chime in with unrewarding cameos. (Lampanelli plays Ronnieâ€™s mom, Liddell plays a bodyguard, Yarbrough plays a beggar.) Having a cast like that, it makes you wonder if â€œDrillbit Taylorâ€ passes whatâ€™s known as the Gene Siskel Test.
Siskel once asked: â€œIs the movie that I am watching as interesting as a documentary of the same actors having lunch together?â€