Miscellaneous Reviews Festivals Lists Interviews

web analytics

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

Sandy Wexler (April 24/17)

Adam Sandler’s almost impressively steady spiral into irrelevance continues with Sandy Wexler, as the movie, like many of the erstwhile SNL star’s recent comedies, suffers from a dearth of hearty laughs and an overly lackadaisical execution that grows more and more wearying as time slowly proceeds. The film casts Sandler as the title character, a gregarious and somewhat incompetent talent manager who discovers a talented singer named Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson) and spends the next several years attempting to transform her into a star. It’s immediately clear that the most obvious impediment to Sandy Wexler’s success is its ludicrously overlong running time of 131 minutes (!), with the movie’s pervasively meandering atmosphere, which stems from an almost total lack of focus, paving the way for a momentum-free narrative that lurches from one needless, padded-out comedic sequence to the next (eg Sandy attempts to learn how to golf, Sandy visits a client at a wrestling match, etc, etc). Almost as problematic is Sandler’s inability to transform his character into an even partially sympathetic figure, as the actor delivers a one-note performance that grates virtually from the word go and it's apparent, too, that Sandler's ongoing attempts at cultivating chemistry with his much younger costar fall hopelessly (and hilariously) flat. It is, as such, not surprising to note that the viewer has virtually nothing invested in the central character's success or happiness, which subsequently ensures that Sandy Wexler's third-act efforts at tugging at one's heartstrings simply don't pay off in the slightest. The end result is an expectedly underwhelming Sandler effort that, at the very least, isn't quite as bad as certain other recent endeavors (eg Jack and Jill), and yet it's disheartening to realize that the one-time box-office draw's best days are way, way behind him.

out of

© David Nusair