‘Drillbit’ provides comedic insight into the lives of teens | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Drillbit’ provides comedic insight into the lives of teens

Howie Nave
Suzanne Hanover / Paramount PicturesNate Hartley, Owen Wilson, David Dorfman and Troy Gentile star in "Drillbit Taylor," opening locally this week at the Heavenly Village Cinema.

There’s been a trend lately where filmmakers known for their R-rated movies have been softening up their language some for a more family-oriented product.

Maybe it’s the appeal of reaching a wider audience targeting the youth market that seems appealing. We all know that underage kids are seeing the R-rated stuff. Who really polices what they can see anyway? I mean, c’mon, it’s not going to be the guy who takes your ticket. They’re not paid enough to check everyone who comes into the theater for so little money.

Still, when a filmmaker or producer comes out with a PG-13 flick it shows they want to reach that youth market in a legitimate manner.

With that said producer Judd Apatow, known primarily for such hits as “Superbad,” “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (all R-rated by the way) has hooked himself up with director Steven Brill in a movie that surprisingly has a heart to it with a message about high school bullying. And it has a PG-13 rating to boot.

The subject is familiar: kids in school trying to be cool who are really geeks trying to fit in. Insert the cliche sayings such as “The more things change the more they remain the same” or “History repeats itself.” You get the picture. The styles and music may be different but the storyline remains the same.

As with any movie ” particularly one involving teens ” it helps if you care for the characters being portrayed. Right from the get-go you feel for these students who so want to fit in. And it’s especially tough as this is their first day in high school. Ryan (Troy Gentile), Wade (Nate Hartley) and Emmit (David Dorfman) are at that awkward stage in life. We get the overweight kid who so wants to be a rapper, the skinny kid who could barely bench press his own lunch and the short kid who wants to befriend the other two who don’t want to be seen with him. Well, not at first.

There’s plenty of humor throughout the movie even before Owen Wilson (as homeless guy Drillbit Taylor) takes on the position as bodyguard for a fee. It’s both sad and funny thinking that someone would need a bodyguard just to go to school. I mean, what do some of these kids do in real life when they don’t have the luxury of being cool and having to get a bodyguard?

The movie gives us a glimpse into today’s family unit ” or more accurately ” the lack of one. One kid’s mom has remarried a guy who has his own sons and loves them more than the one that came with the woman he married, while one of the other kids comes from a single-parent home.

The difficulty of students nowadays can be overwhelming when you factor not just the pressure to fit in to the micro-community known as high school but to also deal with the broken or extended family one comes from. This can, at times, compound things even more.

To its credit “Drillbit Taylor” is funny (as it is labeled a comedy) but also paints a picture to the uninitiated who otherwise wouldn’t have a clue what it’s like to be a part of today’s society at a most difficult transition in life.

The movie paints the authority figures as clueless and useless ” be it Wade’s step dad or the high school principal ” but the picture is geared toward today’s youth market and not the adults.

The geeks in question are over exaggerated in their roles at times and high school bully Filkins (Alex Frost) comes across as an Eminem wannabe from a privileged family but the movie does a decent job making you laugh and also question how you treat or treated others when you thought you were all that and then some.

Owen Wilson is billed as the top star and his character here mirrors that of past roles with his laid back delivery. Very rarely does his emotional range spike into an agitated state but is more like a constant flow throughout the film. The kids do a great job of solidifying their parts as do some of the cameo roles.

Comedienne Lisa Lampanelli, known as “The Queen of Mean” has a small part playing the mother to one of the bullies. Knowing Lisa (who gets to use her real name in the movie) it’s a tad ironic having her playing the mom of a misfit.

Typecasting indeed!

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