Rare is the star vehicle that is as poorly matched to its star as Drillbit Taylor, which casts Owen Wilson as a homeless army deserter and con man, able to fool people into believing he’s both a substitute teacher and a master of hand-to-hand combat. It’s a part that requires bluster, but Wilson’s laid-back delivery just doesn’t pass muster. It’s easy to believe he’d be homeless and lounging around the beaches of Santa Monica all day, but impossible to buy him as an ass-kicker—or believe that anyone else would. Shame, too, because Drillbit Taylor is pretty good in almost every aspect other than its lead performance. Were this just about the high-school freshmen who hire the title character as their bodyguard—overweight and foul-mouthed Ryan (Troy Gentile, the young Jack Black in both Tenacious D and Nacho Libre), scrawny stepchild Wade (Unfabulous’s Nate Hartley), and über-dorky Emmit (scary Ring kid David Dorfman, now pubescent)—it could have been a real charmer.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 18, 2008