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The Films of Steven Brill

Heavy Weights

Late Last Night

Little Nicky

Mr. Deeds

Without a Paddle

Drillbit Taylor (October 1/08)

Though hardly as awful as one might've expected, Drillbit Taylor suffers from an aggressively bland modus operandi that slowly-but-surely transforms it into the cinematic equivalent of background music (ie the movie passes the time in a completely non-threatening, entirely forgettable manner). The film follows a trio of put-upon high schoolers (Nate Hartley's Wade, Troy Gentile's Ryan, and David Dorfman's Emmitt) who decide to hire their own personal bodyguard after running afoul of two particularly nasty bullies (Alex Frost's Filkins and Josh Peck's Ronnie), though - unbeknownst to them - the man that they've chosen for the job (Owen Wilson's Drillbit Taylor) is actually a scheming hobo. Screenwriters Kristofer Brown and Seth Rogen have peppered Drillbit Taylor with a number of admittedly humorous asides and references - ie the inspired use of a music cue from Cape Fear - and yet the eye-rollingly familiar trajectory of the film's storyline does prove effective in negating its more overtly positive attributes. Having said that, Brown and Rogen deserve credit for ensuring that the inevitable discovery of Drillbit's true identity isn't handled quite as melodramatically as one might've anticipated - with the fake break-up that occurs between Drillbit and a fellow teacher (Leslie Mann's Lisa) handled especially well. This is hardly enough to forgive the oppressively innocuous atmosphere, however, and Drillbit Taylor ultimately lives up to its reputation as a rare misstep for producer Judd Apatow.

out of

Walk of Shame

The Do-Over (May 30/16)

It's perhaps not surprising to note that The Do-Over comes of as a terrible and often interminable piece of work, as star Adam Sandler's been cranking out a series of half-baked, desperately unfunny comedies for the past several years - with the actor's demotion to the straight-to-Netflix realm certainly not helping matters (ie the movie's terribleness is compounded by a cheap and low-rent atmosphere). The storyline follows old high-school buddies Max (Sandler) and Charlie (David Spade) as they decide to fake their deaths and start new lives in Florida, with problems ensuing as the two men find themselves caught up in a dangerous scheme involving millions of dollars and top-secret medical information. The Do-Over's lackluster narrative casts a pall of total mediocrity over the proceedings, as the hopelessly hackneyed (and thoroughly predictable) plot ultimately highlights the ineptitude of the movie's myriad of attributes - with Sandler's all-too-typically lazy turn as the central character ranking high on the film's laundry list of negative elements. (Spade, at the very least, deserves some credit for attempting something different with his one-dimensional character.) The thriller-oriented aspects to Kevin Barnett and Chris Pappas' screenplay fall absolutely and completely flat, while the pair's various attempts at wringing laughs out of exceedingly, excessively stale material fares just as poorly. Though it's been a long, long time since he's appeared in a decent picture, Sandler's decision to completely abandon any pretense of effort nevertheless remains disappointing and depressing - as the actor, who can be good when he wants to be, possessed a tremendous amount of potential when he first kicked his movie career off the ground.

out of

© David Nusair