Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 17 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
With a name like that, you can be pretty sure that the titular character is not a nuclear physicist or neurosurgeon, and you’d be so right. Drillbit (Owen Wilson) is a homeless army deserter in upscale Malibu, where he showers daily on the beach in full view of rush hour traffic; he then dons a chic, paramilitary ensemble, topped by a cowboy hat, and moves easily about the town, panhandling, but looking fashionable doing it. Drillbit makes destitution look dreamy. His real dream is to get enough money together to make the move to the Great White North. I guess he wants to add snow and sub-zero temperatures to his list of challenges. What a go-getter.
Meanwhile, high school freshmen Wade, (Nate Hartley) Ryan (Troy Gentile) and Emmit (David Dorfman) are having a rough time in the hallways and bathrooms of their new educational institution. Classically nerdy, (one’s too thin, one’s too fat, one’s too short), the trio comes up with an expensive plan to interview and hire a bodyguard to protect them from relentless tormentor Filkins (Alex Frost). Drillbit easily fits the bill, promising full protection but intending to take the boys for all of their affluent parents’ cash, starting with a down payment comprised of Bar Mitzvah money from one of his new charges.
Wouldn’t you know, the resourceful con-man gets a crisis of conscience and some morals along the way, even though he easily impersonates a substitute teacher and woos a dizzy English teacher (Leslie Mann). His homeless pals want in on some of the good life too, complicating matters which make Drillbit choose between his old grifter life and his new “career”. Sound familiar?
There’s a budding romance between the skeletal Wade and an Asian classmate, smart, pretty Brooke (Valerie Tian). He even joins the Asian Heritage club to be near her, one of the few moments in the film that rings true regarding first crushes and illogical moves that somehow make sense, especially to hormonally challenged teens.
When Filkins finds out the truth about Drillbit, outing him for the homeless drifter he is, the boys feel betrayed and turn against their one-time mentor. Misunderstandings abound and are either further complicated or resolved by a house party confrontation, jail time, and an ethical epiphany by you know who.
Writers Seth Rogen (Superbad) and Kristofor Brown (Beavis & Butthead episodes) stick to the tried and true pattern of garnering laughs by way of the adolescent male: gross humor, cruelty, awkward sexuality, female ineptitude or inaccessibility.
Director Steven Brill (Mr. Deeds) constructs a title character that’s too likeable for his actions. Wilson’s smirky persona can either work well or misfire into molar-grinding frustration. His mumbling drawl works the same way. When he’s not ambling, he’s sauntering through a scene at the speed of sludge, trying to be such a lovable rascal that the portrayal can help turn the viewer against him. Once you’ve lost the audience, it’s almost impossible to get them back.
Nate Hartley as underweight Wade does a competent job conveying discomfort and teen rationality, a contradiction in terms. Troy Gentile as the circumferentially oversized Ryan purposefully resembles a smaller version of Seth Rogen to legitimize his caustic vocabulary. David Dorfman’s Emmit is perfectly cast as the odd kid who hasn’t grown into his features yet, but must nonetheless attend a microcosmic world full of star athletes and prom queens.
Leslie Mann as the baby-voiced English teacher with bad judgment rams home Rogen’s involvement in the project, where the woman with the most lines has the least brains. Conveniently daft, needy and sex-starved, she is just one of the many adults who are portrayed as helpless, incompetent, devoid of insight, and completely brain dead while running the world so to speak, in various positions of authority.
Alex Frost as the rodent-faced Filkins is all too familiar an infestation from countless high school memories. He’s more real a character than the slick Drillbit.
Does Drillbit redeem himself? Do the boys learn a lesson? Does the viewer? One such lesson could be to avoid films with any type of tool in the title. There’s usually an onscreen manifestation of one, and no way to fix the resulting wreckage.