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It all begins on the first day of high school, when a trio of anxious freshmen—chubby Ryan, freakishly skinny Wade and their shrimpy tagalong, Emmit—become the instant target of the school's senior psycho-in-residence, Filkins, the ultimate school bully. As what they were hoping to be the best years of their lives are suddenly turned into a daily living hell, the boys realize they have only one choice—to hire their own personal bodyguard. Enter Drillbit Taylor, not the best but definitely the cheapest of the mercenaries, hit men and bodyguards who answer their online ad. Drillbit is steely, dangerous and skilled in covert black-ops and exotic martial arts. He's also a complete fraud. He bluffs and cajoles the credulous trio through his cockamamie boot camp and, after several hilarious missteps, instills in them new skills and some much needed confidence. But when push comes to shove—and more pushing and more shoving—Drillbit seems to be no match for Filkins' reign of terror. Now it's up to Ryan, Wade and Emmit to transform this down-and-out drifter into the savior he originally promised to be.
For more about Drillbit Taylor and the Drillbit Taylor Blu-ray release, see Drillbit Taylor Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 27, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann, Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, David Dorfman, Adam Baldwin
Director: Steven Brill
» See full cast & crew
Drillbit Taylor Blu-ray Review
Should you take this disc under your wing and add it to your collection?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 27, 2008
It's just the second day of school, so guess what? It's going to keep coming, coming, and coming!
It's been my observation that movie fans generally tend to gravitate towards one or two genres they each happen to enjoy more so than most other genres, a genre where they are more willing to give a film an honest chance, ignoring the advice of critics or their friends for the sake of seeing another entry into their favorite film category. For some, it may be the horror genre. For others, it's the lowbrow comedy, or maybe even the period romance. For me, it's the war genre, followed closely by both the sci-fi and the high school or college-set film, the latter a style of film not necessarily confined to one particular genre or the other, although films set in academia generally fall into either the drama (Lean on Me, Stand and Deliver, The Browning Version) or the comedy (Animal House, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Revenge of the Nerds) genres. Sometimes, a film intertwines both genres, as seen in The Breakfast Club, Heathers, and Rushmore. Drillbit Taylor falls squarely into the comedy side of the ledger, and held the position as one of my most eagerly-awaited Blu-ray discs to screen and review, despite the somewhat negative word-of-mouth that accompanied the film. Written by Kristofor Brown (author of various episodes of "Beavis and Butt-Head") and Seth Rogen (Superbad), Drillbit Taylor proved the naysayers right: this one is quite the let-down.
Freaky freshmen Wade (Nate Hartley) and Ryan (Troy Gentile, Good Luck Chuck) are both easy targets for the bullies as they begin high school. That magical first day of high school, filled with the wonder of what's to come, generally includes dreams of excelling in the classroom, acing the SAT, and eventually, mailing out college applications. OK, not really. Like most other boys ready to enter into high school, Wade and Ryan dream of attractive girls, attractive girls, and more attractive girls. Despite their weight problems (Wade is far too skinny and Ryan is far too chubby), the duo rehearse their lines as they prepare for school, Ryan assigns himself a "hip" nickname ("T-Dog"), and they arrive at the bus stop, ready to take over the world -- and find they are wearing the same shirt (as if they needed yet another bulls-eye on their backs). After they are picked on one-too-many times, Ryan, Wade, and new tagalong Emmett (David Dorfman, The Ring) attempt to hire a personal bodyguard who will bully the bullies and clear a path for a more laid-back, wedgie, bruise, and Siamese-free high school career. After the interview process brings them the likes of a former hip-hop bodyguard, a member of the Israeli Secret Service, Adam Baldwin, and Frank Whaley, all of whom want far more money than this trio of nerdy misfits can offer, they interview their last hope, Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson, Behind Enemy Lines), a self-described improvised weapons expert, former U.S. Army Ranger, former Black Ops operative, and decorated marksman who has protected three Vice-Presidents and several celebrities, including Sly Stallone. This "budget bodyguard," who is really homeless and spends his day begging for change during rush hour on a congested freeway, sees fit to use the freshmen to his advantage as he plots with a friend to move to Canada where land is plentiful (and free, so long as you go far enough north they believe). Will Drillbit Taylor play out as it likely would in real life with Taylor getting away with his scheme, leaving the nerds to be slaughtered by the bullies, or will Hollywood clichés and contrivances rule the day, leaving audiences with yet another predictable ending?
Drillbit Taylor feels like The Benchwarmers meets The Karate Kid meets Major Payne. Three nerds (The Benchwarmers) are bullied and want revenge (The Karate Kid) and an ex-military has-been/wannabe is hired to whip them into shape, with several laughs along the way (Major Payne). Fortunately, Drillbit Taylor is no worse than the other two comedies on this list, but that isn't saying a whole lot. Granted, there are some very funny moments in the film, many of which don't even involve Drillbit. The high school trio of Wade, Ryan, and Emmett work very well. They're as good as any bullied trio I've ever seen, thanks to their all-too natural ability to play out roles they seem to have a solid grasp on. Truth be told, the movie works better without the Drillbit Taylor character. I blame that more on mediocre writing than Owen Wilson's performance. The character himself is a mostly boring one, and he seems unnaturally forced into the plot. The idea behind Drillbit Taylor is an excellent one; the writers simply forgot to make "Drillbit" a character that worked well in the context of the plot. He's neither too tough nor too nonchalant. He falls into a boring middle ground and his arc is one we see coming from the first time we meet the character and the result is an all-too-predictable ending that takes the fun out of an otherwise well-staged and well-played finale.
All is not lost, however, as Drillbit Taylor is worth the price of admission for a good chunk of the film. There are some first-rate ideas here, not to mention solid writing insofar as the roles and characters of the bullies and the bullied are concerned, as well as competent direction from Steven Brill (Mr. Deeds). Stephen Root (Leatherheads) turns in a fine performance as the school's principal, though I was saddened to notice the absence of a red Swingline stapler on his desk. Another place where Drillbit Taylor gets it right is when scenes from other films are introduced into this one for fighting demonstration purposes. We're privy to a scene from Brian De Palma's The Untouchables where the film's hero, Elliot Ness (portrayed by Kevin Costner) confronts the film's villain, Al Capone (portrayed by Robert DeNiro). Another scene comes from Fight Club featuring a confrontation scene between Edward Norton and Brad Pitt.
Drillbit Taylor Blu-ray, Video Quality
Drillbit Taylor arrives on Blu-ray in a 1080p high definition, 2.35:1 framed transfer. All things considered, the film looks very good. Colors are vibrant and stand out in many scenes. In fact, Drillbit Taylor is one of the most colorful films I've seen and it pushes the boundaries of "natural" versus "hot" color reproduction. Many colors, notably reds, seem to stand out as overly saturated and intense in relation to the more natural hues of Drillbit's standard-issue olive drab GI shirt, for example. Some shots also exhibit slightly golden or yellow tints that often reflect off flesh tones and, as a result, alter their appearance from natural to processed. Drillbit Taylor is a an extremely bright movie that is well-lit in nearly every scene, even the nighttime scenes. It appeared to me that this entire look was intentional on the part of the filmmakers; we seem to be seeing a trend of releasing films with over-exaggerated colors and odd tints and glows about them recently (especially films of this genre), and this seems to be another one of them. One aspect of Drillbit Taylor that is truly exceptional is the level of visible detail. Even background objects, which tend to be fuzzy and undefined on many transfers, are highly detailed and clearly visible on this film. Foreground objects fare very well, too. Every strand of hair is visible on character's heads. The straw hat that Taylor wears looks realistically worn, dirty, and old. Each scuff mark on the school's hallway floor, blade of grass on the lawn, branch and leaf on trees, tile on the restroom wall, and dent in the lockers, comes together to bring the movie to life in a way we rarely see in even the best Blu-ray releases. Black levels were consistently solid throughout, and film grain is not readily apparent on this image. I did notice at least one instance of obvious shimmering and jaggies in the image as seen on a striped tie worn by Drillbit at one point in the movie. Nevertheless, is a solid transfer likely to please most Blu-ray fans.
Drillbit Taylor Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Drillbit Taylor won't excite the aural senses with its Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. As a comedy, listeners shouldn't expect a film like this one to set the sonic world on fire, and it doesn't. It's a pleasing enough listen, and a solid compliment to the film, a film that is dialogue-centric with not much more than music and the occasionally pleasing ambient sounds of school and nature to add much more to an otherwise dull soundtrack. Dialogue reproduction is excellent, as expected; it is center-focused and clean with no obvious volume issues in relation to the rest of the soundtrack. There is a noticeable rear channel presence, but only on occasion, be it a nice, blowing breeze, student chatter in the bustling school hallways, busses or other vehicles moving around the parking lot, and the like. Still, much of the movie is front-heavy, but that's alright. There is decent directionality as sounds move across the front soundstage during a few shots, but don't expect too much activity from this one. Drillbit Taylor met my expectations for the soundtrack. It's a solid enough listen and serves as a perfect compliment to the proceedings without becoming phony or forced, involving or placing sounds for the sake of amped-up effects that don't fit the mood of the film.
Drillbit Taylor Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Drillbit Taylor is worth hiring on Blu-ray for its somewhat impressive supplemental material section. First up is a feature-length commentary track with director Steven Brill, co-writer and co-producer Kristofor Brown, and actors Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley, and David Dorfman. After the obligatory introductions, we are immediately treated to an extended period of dead air lasting until Owen Wilson's introduction. The film's stars don't begin to arrive until a bit later on in the track, but Brill and Brown fill the time (and the entire track) nicely with some interesting anecdotes about everything from filming close to Judd Apatow's house to discussing scenes that failed to make it into even this extended cut of the film. The Writers Get to Talk: Kristofor Brown and Seth Rogen (1080i, 14:00) is next. Rogen joins Brown via telephone from Pittsburgh. While behind-the-scenes stills play on-screen, the participants discuss the film with one another. Topics covered include scenes the writers thought up but never filmed, the reasons they came up with for the character being named "Drillbit," the rap sequences, and even talking up some of the stars from the film who play only minor roles.
Nineteen deleted scenes (23:32) are next, presented in 1080p high definition and with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Line-O-Rama (1080p, 4:24) is a montage of some of the various funny lines from the movie. Panhandle (1080p, 3:07) is another montage, this time of some various panhandling scenes. The obligatory gag reel (4:01) is next, presented in 1080p high definition with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Kids on the Loose (1080i, 2:41) is a montage of of some behind-the-scenes video clips of the film's teenage stars. Directing Kids (1080i, 3:02) intertwines some behind-the-scenes clips with a chat with director Steven Brill on how he got the most out of the film's younger stars. Super Billy (1080i, 2:42) is a brief look at the character "Billy," as seen both in the film and between takes.
Moving along, Bully (1080i, 2:59) takes a look at the two bullies seen in the film, again both through clips from the film as well as through some behind-the-scenes takes. Bodyguard (1080i, 2:55) examines the filming of the bodyguard interview montage from the film with some video clips featuring interviews with the various cast members. Trading Punches (1080i, 1:34) examines some of the fight choreography employed prior to the filming of one of the scenes. Rap Off (1080i, 3:35) examines the preparation that went into the making of the film's rapping scene. Sprinkler Day (1080i, 3:24), you guessed it, takes us behind-the-scenes of the film's fire sprinkler scene. Filkins Fight (1080i, 7:15) is a bit more substantial behind-the-scenes look at the film's climax. The Life of Don (1080i, 2:14) examines the life of one of the film's secondary characters, Don. The Real Don: Danny McBride (1080i, 5:46) takes viewers behind-the-scenes of several scenes the actor is involved in. Finally, two trailers for the film, entitled International Trailer (1080p, 1:48) and Bodyguard (1080p, 2:35) conclude the supplemental materials.
Drillbit Taylor Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Perhaps the theatrical cut of the film worked slightly better, but I found this Extended Survival cut of Drillbit Taylor to be overly long and dull in many of the scenes featuring the film's title character. Nerds getting back at bullies always makes for a watchable comedy, and Drillbit Taylor is at least that, watchable. The film features a fine concept that works well except for the whole "Drillbit Taylor" angle, an angle that would have worked far better with more care and attention paid to the role of the character, placing him naturally into the story rather than forcing him into it. Paramount's Blu-ray release of this film is a strong one. The video quality is solid if you can accept the look of the film for what seems to be its director-intended appearance. Likewise, the audio quality is fine for this style of film. While the supplements are numerous (and presented in high definition, a wonderful trend from Paramount), many of them are rather short and tedious. This package is one fans of the film will be eager to pick up, and to them, Drillbit Taylor on Blu-ray comes recommended.
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Drillbit Taylor Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Drillbit Taylor Announced for Blu-ray - May 19, 2008
Paramount Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Owen Wilson comedy 'Drillbit Taylor' to Blu-ray on July 29th in extended form, four weeks after the DVD release. Fans who decide to wait the extra month for the high definition release will be ...
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