A+ Sound A Extras B
starring Owen Wilson, Leslie Mann, Danny McBride, Josh Peck
screenplay by Kristofor Brown & Seth Rogen
directed by Steven Brill
by Bill Chambers For good and for ill, John Hughes's sticky fingerprints are all over Drillbit Taylor, his first screen credit (under his nom-de-plume "Edmond Dantès") in six years. The film has signs of something written post-Curly Sue, given its glib fascination with the homeless, penchant for quasi-Dickensian names (Drillbit, Filkins, Doppler, Fence), and reams of sadistic slapstick. Yet it also echoes an earlier period in which Hughes treated high-schoolers with sensitivity, confronted the sometimes-toxic influence of their parents (particularly the patriarch), and understood pop-culture as teenage shorthand. (If the score's pomo quotation of the Cape Fear theme wasn't indicated in Hughes's 70-page "scriptment," it's an uncanny homage. Ditto a non-sequitur of the nurse's office pulling down a "Closed" sign like a nervous bank teller in the Wild West during an altercation in the hall outside.) Too, Drillbit Taylor betrays Hughes's influence in scenes of class warfare, though a moment when the protagonists, running for their lives, stop to ogle a couple of sunbathers is so derivative of his Ferris Bueller's Day Off that only the rabid fandom of script doctors Kristofor Brown and Seth Rogen could account for it.