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Mar 24, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Drillbit Taylor

Now, the usual gig here would entail my coming up with some clever tie-in, followed by a straight review of the film at hand. However, I hardly think that's necessary, given the film. In case you're sleeping under a rock (in which case you're probably not sleeping too well), Drillbit Taylor has been (rightfully) compared, by just about everyone, to producer Judd Apatow's production from roughly six months ago, namely Superbad. The only differences are that, aside from having the titular "bodyguard" Taylor (played by known tough guy Owen Wilson), the three high schoolers this go around are a few years younger, and the movie is not as funny (to how much of a degree depends on who you talk to). At this rate, not only is overexposure a potential upcoming hazard, but apparently, with his casts getting younger and his movies not as good, he's also two years away from producing Look Who's Talking 4: Preschool Geeks in Love. I weep for the future.

That said, Drillbit probably isn't as bad as you've heard. It's not on the level of previous Apatow-tings (I just coined that phrase - a copyright is forthcoming), but it still probably beats most other comedies these days. Despite Owen Wilson's inability to play anything other than "easygoing rogue-ish scamp with a heart of gold" lately, the film has a few inspired bits of comedy, and the two lead kids, despite their (deserved) comparisons to Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, are appealing and pretty funny - both impressive given their ages. But in the end, the movie is just too lame, long and predictable for anyone to remember the funny parts.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."

With that business out of the way, let's get down to what I really want to talk about: ass pennies.
Whoa, whoa, whoa...that's not right. Allow me to back up.

See, the best part of Drillbit Taylor for me wasn't Wilson or the kids or any particular line (though there were some good ones). Instead, it was the large ensemble cast that would be of great appeal to only someone like me. Granted, many of the parts were (very small) bit parts or cameos, but some were just your run-of-the-mill minor roles. Let me play the role of IMDb and recant some of the many actors that appeared and helped make the movie for me:

* Stephen Root - an eternal MVP in my book. If he did nothing else in his career, he would be in the Hall of Fame for playing Milton in Office Space and the boss in NewsRadio.

* David Koechner - SNL and Anchorman veteran who always cracks me up, though honestly, I can't even recall seeing him in Drillbit.

* Beth Littleford - though Comedy Central acts like The Daily Show didn't exist prior to Jon Stewart arriving, the show was still a big, hilarious hit back in the days when Craig Kilborn hosted, and Littleford and Brian Unger were amongst the correspondents. Though Kilborn's career has apparently gone the way of the dodo since his leaving CBS' Late Late Show, Littleford has been seen here and there. She should be seen more.

* Frank Whaley - I don't know if Whaley is popular enough to be considered cameo-ing here, but he's memorable as a whacked-out loon who "interviews" with the kids for their position.

* Adam Baldwin - Also amongst the interviewees is the former My Bodyguard star, in a true cameo that will most likely be lost on 99% of the audience, as that film about a large boy (Baldwin) that befriends and protects a geeky little guy, was released in 1980. Adding to the brilliance of the cameo, Baldwin even wears the same clothes he wore for much of the older film.

* Finally, another bit of casting "fun" that won't and/or shouldn't be picked up on by many is the inclusion of 3/4 of the cast of the defunct Upright Citizens Brigade, a bizarre, roller coaster ride of a sketch comedy show that ran on Comedy Central from 1998-2000. That's right, kids, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh and Ian Roberts all appear in Drillbit Taylor, with Roberts holding down the largest role as Wade's asshole stepdad (the fourth UCB lead, not featured here, is current SNL star Amy Poehler).

I've noticed the gentlemen of the UCB in any number of films over the past 10 years, in roles as small as the bit parts played by Walsh and Besser here (the former plays a driver that tells Wilson's Taylor not to spend the dollar he's giving him on pot, the latter plays a pawn shop owner), to myriad commercials to Besser's larger supporting role as one of Dewey Cox's band mates in last year's Walk Hard. Never have I felt that the show gots it due, so it's high time I pay some respect to them and say thanks.

Their show, as I mentioned previously, ran furiously hot and cold. The concept was bizarre from the git-go - Wikipedia, help me out: "The overall plot of the show was that these four were The Upright Citizens Brigade, an underground organization "with no government ties and unlimited resources" dedicated to creating and monitoring chaos from their secure underground base. The sketches depict chaotic or bizarre events in the world, events which are often directly engineered by the UCB."

It's been nearly a decade since the show left the air, but I managed to track down two of their more inspired sketches (though I can't find one that revolved around an office that was located in the forest, which perhaps was a precursor/inspiration for that recent job hunting advertisement where people battle each other for promotions). I hope you enjoy.


9 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Drillbit Taylor"

Piper said...

I work with Brian Huskey who is a member of UCB.

Ass Pennies is classic. Have you noticed that when you tell someone about Ass Pennies, it's actually funnier than the video itself?

Doug said...

Ass pennies was what did it for me. I was hooked on the show after that. Or was it the Little Donny episode? I don't remember. But, I agree. Any cameo by the UCB folks is something to enjoy.

Daniel G. said...

Yeah so I skipped out on this one because it had such bad reviews out of the gate. Obviously, I'll still watch it at the appropriate time.

Dave said...

Thanks for the heads up about Drillbit! I have yet to see Superbad because I didn't think it was the type of comedy that I would like, but I will surely pick it up soon. With that said, I think I will avoid Drillbit until knowing how I feel about Superbad.

Interesting note on all of those cameos and such.

Matthew Lucas said...

I agree about the movie. My favorite cameo however was Lisa Lampinelli, I've always enjoyed her.

The Fraze said...

Hmph, i'm really surprised to see this solid of a rating from you, ha.

The Mist DVD is amazing by the way, there's a black and white cut that is marvelous.

Fletch said...

Re UCB - I think their first episode was the one that contained that Unabomber sketch, and was the Bucket of Truth ep. It killed me.

Drillbit is by no means great, but I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as some are making it out to be. And to the Fraze, it did get my middle of the road rating, after all. "Decent" isn't that solid.

WaywardJam said...

Lisa Lampanelli is awesome, wish she had a bigger part in DT. I totally forgot to mention Whaley in my write-up, his interview was cuh-lassic. Never saw My Bodyguard, so missed that Adam Baldwin ref. As a fan of all things Whedon, just happy to see him working.

I hate to admit it but I've never seen UCB. And I call myself an Amy Poehler fan! I need to get on that. Thanks for making my Netflix queue that much longer!

NFL Adam said...

Holy hell, Adam Baldwin was the bodyguard in My Bodyguard? This seems like something I should have remembered. Wow.

BTW, he will always be Major Mitchell to me.