Drillbit Taylor: Extended Edition (US - BD)
Gabe's had about enough out of Owen Wilson and Seth Rogan, but this'll do ok
Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson) is a homeless, AWOL soldier who has decided that emigrating illegally to Canada is his only way out of panhandling, living in boxes, and showering at the beach. Taylor takes a job body guarding three weak willed high schoolers from two malevolent bullies, and sets up the process of robbing the kids and their parents blind. Unfortunately, things go bad when Drillbit develops a conscience and a fatherly relationship with the kids.
Drillbit Taylor is basically a throwback to all those high school comedies of the 1980s. As if this weren’t obvious enough, the original story was co-written by John Hughes (under a pseudonym), and it features a My Bodyguard in-joke (from which it takes most of its basic plot). Seth Rogan’s 2007 high school team script, Superbad was more modern and surprisingly realistic overall, which made it more interesting, and more funny.
I don’t really like those ‘80s High School comedies, and I’m pretty sick of Owen Wilson’s shtick, especially when it isn’t being wrangled by Wes Anderson, so right off the bat Drillbit Taylor had a bit of an uphill battle. To review this thing like a professional (although I’m not a professional reviewer) I have to acknowledge that it wasn’t made for me; it’s made for teenagers who like laughing at their own lives. I never had trouble with bullies or hazing, and I was much too busy being all punk rock to really care about popularity when I was in High School, so I don’t even relate to this stuff on a nostalgia level. All I can do is give the film some credit for laughs (and there are a few), and points for originality (of which there is little).
Despite the ‘extended’ status of the release, this is very much an aimed at minors production, without much of the subversive randiness of other Judd Apatow productions. The structure is very, very textbook, from first act introductions, to second act good times and a third act conflict, but sometimes there’s a little comfort in predictability. This is made to be sophomoric, crowd-pleasing dreck, but it’s pretty amusing, at least in parts, and the people that laughed when they saw the trailer will surely enjoy themselves. I wouldn’t watch it again, but I’m not about to get down on it too hard.
Surprisingly enough this middle budget teen-aimed comedy is better looking than a whole bunch of other Blu-ray releases that’ve graced my set. Details aren’t strikingly or abnormally sharp, but this is mostly because the film is stylistically soft. Overall this print is a bit on the orange side, which might be a stylistic choice. The warm colours are vibrant and solid, mostly without compression noise, though I caught a little low level blocking in the deeper blues and darker reds. Edge enhancement and noise is almost entirely absent, and contrast is finely tuned.
5.1 channels of Dolby Digital TrueHD sound have never been more average than they are here. In the track’s defence, Drillbit Taylor is mostly about dialogue driven jokes. Most of the audio gags are centred, and not particularly loud (the joke is often about the realism of the sound, like a really weak kid’s punch). During outdoor scenes there’s a general waft of incidental noise like traffic, bystanders, and wind. Everything is quite clear and entirely without any obvious compression, it’s just all so unassuming. Even the music track (usually the one boom for modern comedies) is soft, with a slight echo in the back channel, as if things haven’t been quite properly adjusted.
Stuff begins with a commentary from director Steven Brill and co-writer Krstofor Brown, who are eventually joined by the three lead kids—Troy Gentle, Nate Hartley, David Dorfman. It’s a reasonably fun track, but much more fun when the kids are present, because the grown-ups have a good report with them, and because they’re child actors, who are some of the most outgoing people on earth. There’s a lot of blank space for the number of commentators, but all in all a decent track.
‘The Writers Get a Chance to Talk’ is a phone call between Seth Rogan (who was making another movie at the time) and Brown set to a slide show of behind the scenes footage. Brown is sort of interviewing Rogan, who seems a little iffy on the facts until he’s coached a bit. It sounds lame, but it’s actually pretty funny for a phone conversation. It fills in just as much behind the scenes info as the commentary track, but is a little taxing at fourteen minutes.
Then we’ve got nineteen deleted and extended scenes, running about twenty-three minutes. It’s very common for comedies, especially this brand of comedy, to end the day with a lot of extra jokes, most of which seem to end up in montages. The target audiences usually aren’t up for three-hour features, understandably. Most of this stuff is extended blubber, and the cutting was generally a good idea, mostly because none of it is very funny.
‘Line-O-Rama’ is a four and a half minute series of deleted lines (mostly unscripted I’m guessing), which apparently weren’t good enough for the deleted and extended scene collection. ‘Pan Handle’ is another three minutes of deleted and alternate jokes, based all around Owen Wilson’s early in the movie pan handling. A gag reel closes out the ‘regular’ extras.
The ‘exclusive survival features’, other than the extended version of the movie, boil down to a series of short featurettes. ‘Kids on the Loose’ is three minutes of kids being obnoxious, ‘Directing Kids’ is three minutes where the director complains tongue in cheek about working with the obnoxious kids, and pretending to hit them, ‘Super Billy’ concerns little Billy, who doesn’t get a lot of screen time but is likely the best thing about the entire film, ‘Bully’ is three minutes behind the scenes with the bullies, ‘Bodyguard’ is three minutes with the bodyguards the kids don’t hire, ‘Trading Punches’ is two more minutes behind the scenes of the punch off sequence with co-writer Brown, ‘Rap Off’ is two and a half minutes of the little actors being rap trained, ‘Sprinkler Day’ is three and a half minutes about the wet set sprinkler day, ‘Filkin’s Fight’ is seven minutes behind the scenes of the climax, ‘The Life of Don’ is a humorous chat with actor Danny McBride, and (gasp) ‘The Real Don’ is more of the same. It adds up, and going back to the main menu every three minutes is a bitch.
So then, not really my thing, but Drillbit Taylor hits the bases, offers up a few easy laughs, and has just enough creativity to garner a viewing for those that found the trailers amusing. There are far better Seth Rogan and Owen Wilson films out there, but if you’ve seen all those and have a spare weekend, this one should do you fine. No complaints about this Blu-ray Disc, except for the lack of a ‘play all’ option on the extras menu.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 1st July 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English HoH, French, and Spanish
Extras: Director/Writer/Cast Commentary, 'The Writers Get a Chance to Talk', 19 Deleted and Extended Scenes, Mini-Featurettes, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Steven Brill
Cast: Ian Roberts, Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann, Lisa Ann Walter, Josh Peck
Length: 109 minutes
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