Three nerds hire a bodyguard to protect them from the high school bully. Unfortunately, the man they hire is a homeless bum who just wants to swindle them out of their money.
The biggest problem with this Apatow production is the cast. I really think the movie is trying to be Superbad, but the kids in this film are nowhere near the talent of the Superbad cast. In the role of Michael Cera is Nate Hartley as skinny, geek Wade. He does not fit the role as well as Cera and never comes across as more than a skinny geek. Maybe that was the point, but I can’t get behind his character. He is a geek that seems like he should never be more than a geek and is not someone you can get behind on any level.
Playing the part of Jonah Hill is Troy Gentile as fat, mouthy Ryan. Gentile also never nears the comedy level of Hill but is the best member of the cast by far. He at least comes across as someone who wants to fit in and is almost perfect in his role. Drillbit Taylor also has its McLovin in the very nerdy Emmitt. He is the weakest link of the entire trio, both script-wise as well as acting-wise. The final star is Owen Wilson as Drillbit Taylor, who performs his worst role to date. He is the most uninteresting character in the script and really seems to just be cashing a paycheck.
Even if the movie wasn’t being compared to Superbad or 40 Year Old Virgin, it still would fail for a number of reasons. The first problem with the film is it is too long. At almost two hours long, it is entirely too long for this small idea. The movie has too much fluff and would have been better if trimmed. Another problem is the character of Drillbit Taylor, who is a pathological loser and, even with his character development, never comes across as someone worth caring about.
Another problem, and the damning quality of the movie, is the lack of humor. The jokes fall flat, never delivering on funny and usually providing groans in place of laughter. The kids can’t carry the humor and Owen Wilson is wasted through the entire movie. Even scenes with great comic actors such as Stephen Root fail to entertain thanks to the script. Every moment that puts these kids deeper and deeper in danger is so unrealistic and improbable that you can’t enjoy their eventual triumph.
The best parts of the movie are small scenes, and those are really only funny thanks to cameos. The first time we meet Drillbit Taylor, he is panhandling and we meet various funnymen like David Koechner and Matt Walsh. There are also great cameos when the kids are interviewing for bodyguards from Adam Baldwin and Chuck Liddell. These small moments are not enough to save this inept script co-written by the usually funny Seth Rogan, although much of the random non-humor might have come from former Beavis and Butthead scribe Kristofor Brown.
There is a lot of Judd Apatow backlash lately, but I am not part of that. I still love the majority of Apatow’s features, but this movie fails on too many levels. I wanted to like it, as a fan of both Apatow and Owen Wilson. With this poor script and B-level cast, it just wasn’t possible.
We have a commentary track with Steven Brill, Kristofor Brown, Troy Gentile, Nate Hartley and David Dorfman. The director and writer dominate the talk track with the kids only popping in on occasions. It is a little boring. They are all trying to keep it funny, but it gets monotonous quick.
The Writers get a Chance to Talk is a telephone conversation between Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown. It is played over still photographs. They actually talk about the choppy style of the script, but Rogen somehow believes it was hilarious. It checks in around 14 minutes in length.
The Deleted/Extended Scenes clock in at around seventeen minutes. How long did they think this movie was going to be? Most of them are extended scenes and only to inject more humor into the script. Line-O-Rama is a group of one-liners given throughout the script, most of which are not in the movie. They are actually funnier than the movie itself. There is a four-minute gag reel that is a mixture of accidents that hurt someone or funny lines that break up the cast.
Rap Off (3:38) is the training session for Troy Gentile and Alex Frost’s rap battle. Sprinkler Day (3:27) takes a look at the scene where Drillbit sets off the sprinklers at the school. Most of it talks to actor Josh Peck (Ronnie). Bully (3:02) looks at Alex Frost and Josh Peck’s performance as the bullies. Directing Kids (3:03) talks to director Steven Brill about directing the kids. The Real Don: Danny McBride (5:47) talks to McBride, one of the homeless guys about his role in the movie. Previews for other movies round out the extras.