It's the night before the first day of high school for Wade (Nate Hartley) and Ryan (Troy Gentile) and they're engaged in an in-depth discussion over the phone about how it will go. Ryan has decided he wants to change his name to better reflect his abilities as a rapper, while Wade isn't so sure, though one thing they can agree on is that they definitely don't want to be losers in their new school. However, not every dream comes true and when they meet up to catch the bus the next morning, they notice to each other's horror that they are both wearing the same shirt... and that's not the worst of it.
The worst of it is their fears about becoming a magnet for bullies come tragically true, but for an interesting reason: Wade steps in to stop another kid, Emmit (David Dorfman), being victimised by the two biggest bullies in the school. As they are much younger and meeker, Wade and Ryan are immediately singled out and soon their lives are a living hell of pranks and petty violence, although they now have a new friend in Emmit, not that he's any help. Yes, it's the old underdog story once again, scripted by Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown.
However, unlike Rogen's script for Superbad, which featured suspiciously similar lead characters, this was a far less edgy concoction, and if anything a far more traditional teen movie. It was also a Judd Apatow production, but was notable for not enjoying the success that many of his other films had done, and the general consensus was that Drillbit Taylor was a disappointment. And who, exactly, was Drillbit Taylor? He is the homeless army veteran played by top-billed Owen Wilson, who suffered tasteless comments in the media that his suicide attempt was something to do with the poor quality of this film.
Comments which were unwarranted, because he was fine in it and the film was perfectly enjoyable. It was no classic, but had a goodnatured sympathy towards its characters even when they were making mistakes. After weeks of being picked on to an unacceptable degree, Wade, Ryan and Emmit go for the obvious option: if they cannot stand up for themselves, they must find someone to do so for them. This means getting a bodyguard, but with their limited funds, the best they can do is ne'erdowell and beggar Taylor, not that he lets on that he is living in reduced circumstances.
One of the pleasing aspects to the film is that Taylor genuinely goes on a journey of personal improvement after Brown and Rogen refuse to sugarcoat their story by making him a loveable rogue. That might be what he turns into, but he certainly doesn't begin that way. He takes advantage of the kids by lifting objects he can sell from their homes and spinning them yarns about how they can rely on him while he takes their paltry amount of cash. He is even persuaded to rob Wade's house of all its valuables, but will he actually go through with it? Or could it be, as he poses as a substitute teacher, he is getting a sense of self-worth by being these kids' hero? It may be corny, it may not even be all that hilarious, but it has the quality that a lot of the more sympathetic teen comedies of the eighties had, and one can envisage it winning the same nostalgic following in years to come. Besides, no film with a My Bodyguard gag in it can be all bad. Music by Christophe Beck.
[Paramount's DVD has a commentary with cast and crew, a conversation with the writers, deleted scenes, gag reel and more as extras.]