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Paramount Home Video presents
Drillbit Taylor (Blu-Ray) (2008)

"I'm Drillbit Taylor... US Army ranger, black-ops operative, decorated marksman, improvised weapons expert."
"Are you still in the military?"
"I was discharged - unauthorized heroism."

- Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson) and Wade (Nate Hartley)

Review By: Matt Serafini   
Published: July 17, 2008

Stars: Owen Wilson, Nate Hartley, Troy Gentile, David Dorfman, Leslie Mann
Other Stars: Josh Peck, Alex Frost, Danny McBride
Director: Steven Brill

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for Language, Brief Nudity and Some Violence
Run Time: 01h:50m:09s
Release Date: July 01, 2008
UPC: 097361383248
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Some of my fondest memories as a child stemmed from watching the John Hughes teen comedies that were ever so popular in the 80s. After hearing that Drillbit Taylor was based on a John Hughes story (heís credited here as Edmond Dantes), my interest was officially piqued. And while I seriously doubt that anyone will confuse Drillbit Taylor with such genre classics such as Sixteen Candles or Pretty in Pink, I have no problem mentioning it in the same breath. While not a laugh riot, it feels like distant cousin of those films, with its overall likeability and strong sense of heart.

When high school freshmen Wade and Ryan (Nate Hartley and Troy Gentile) become the target of relentless high school bully, Filkins (Alex Frost), they enlist the help of a bodyguard to help get them through their days. Unfortunately for them, a lack of finances forces them to settle on a scruffy-looking character called Drillbit (Owen Wilson). Drillbit is a down on his luck drifter who plans to bilk the kids for all the cash he can grab but, unsurprisingly, opportunism paves way for genuine affection as he eventually comes to care about his pseudo clients.

Drillbit Taylor feels bit schizophrenic in its earlier scenes. Much of the beginning centers on Wade and Ryanís high school tribulations, with the character of Drillbit acting as a bit of an afterthought. Owen Wilsonís part is beefed up for the second act as his character infiltrates the school posing as a substitute, but the script is quick to force him into an underdeveloped relationship with another teacher (Leslie Mann). The two stories never fully gel into a cohesive whole and the film is a bit lopsided as a result.

Drillbit Taylor gets a lot of mileage out of the chemistry of its actors, however. Our two young leads are the typical underdogs, but theyíre real kids and the script will have you rooting from them by the time we reach the inevitable confrontation. Alex Frost is a detestable bully and his character somewhat recalls Richard Tysonís unstoppable terror in the underrated high school comedy, Three Oí Clock High. It's surprising that the script is determined to make him as evil as possible, but it works in upping the tension and providing a satisfying finish. In the title role, Wilson is as likeable as ever and his dry brand of humor benefits his off-kilter character.

It's true that Drillbit Taylor breaks no new ground, but its heart is in the right place. There arenít a lot of sincere teen comedies coming out these days (although Iíve heard great things about Charlie Bartlett, but thatís another story), and this one does have some success. Itís not a knee slapper, but itís packed with enough loving homages to several 80ís classics (keep an eye out for Adam Baldwin) and features several amusing bits. When I wasnít laughing I was caught up in its characters and the filmís overall sense of fun. Itís no classic, but it's better than you might have heard.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Technically speaking, this VC-1 encode looks near-perfect. Colors are vibrant, and the lush California settings pop off the screen. Textures are strong and detailed ... you can literally see individual hairs of scruff on Owen Wilson's constant five o' clock shadow (I know I just sold a bunch of you on that detail). My only qualm is with the flesh tones. Largely, they appear accurately rendered, only occasionally looking like all skintones have been dabbed in a slightly orange hue. It doesn't distract from the proceedings in the least as it's only evident in fleeting moments, but it's enough to knock a point off of it's visual score. That said, this is a crisp transfer and a beautiful high definition image.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French (5.1), Spanish (5.1)no

Audio Transfer Review: This is a dialogue-heavy film, and it's clearly represented on this track. Not much of workout for your rear speakers, save the occasional burst of rap music, but it's a solid track and a satisfying reproduction of the theatrical version's audio mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues
Subtitles/Captions in French, Spanish with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
19 Deleted Scenes
12 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Steve Brill, co-writer Kristofer Brown, actors David Dorfman, Troy Gentle, Nate Hartley
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. The Writers Get to Talk (13m)
  2. Gag Reel
Extras Review: Fans of the film should enjoy the extras available here, although the collection appears to be far more expansive than what you're actually getting.

The audio commentary is a mediocre listen. Owen Wilson is sadly absent from the discussion and director Brill is somewhat of an annoyance to listen to. Co-writer Brown is on deck with the director and they largely discuss days of filming and what scenes have been extended for this exclusive edition, etc. They're joined at various times by the three child stars of the film and they're a little more likable though none of them offer much insight into the production aside from being overly complimentary.

The twelve featurettes aren't so much documentaries as tiny little snippets of behind the scenes footage. Running about 3 minutes a piece (with one nearing the 7 minute mark) these are all mildly amusing even if forgettable. Worst of all there is no 'play all' feature so get ready to keep hitting the play button on that remote.

The collection of deleted scenes, again, aren't much more than tiny little expansions of existing scenes. They feature lots of ad libbing, etc., but none of it is terribly memorable. I personally could've lived without seeing much of this stuff.

Line O' Rama runs four minutes and is merely a montage of the film's "best" (most quotable?) lines. Nothing special here.

The gag reel is an amusing little four minute piece that features some funny bits. One of the best features on the disc.

Most amusing is a thirteen minute discussion between the film's writers, Brown and Seth Rogan titled: The Writers Get a Chance to Talk. It's really just a recorded phone conversation between the two guys, but Rogan is always funny and he provides some insight into the production that was missing from the commentary track. It would've been great to get both he and Owen Wilson onto the commentary, but I digress ...

Two theatrical trailers round out the package.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Drillbit Taylor arrives on home video via a feature-packed Blu-Ray disc that fans of the film wonít want to miss. Those of you who stayed away from this one thanks to its harsh cache of negative reviews should consider taking this one for a spin. Technically speaking, this is a great-looking disc, and the movie encoded on it really isnít all that bad, either. I can't give it an official DOC recommendation, but I would say it's worth a watch and should fit the bill for any family movie night.


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