Drillbit Taylor (12A)

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The Independent Culture

Last year, Heigl co-starred in Knocked Up with Seth Rogen, directed by Judd Apatow. Since then, Rogen and Apatow have collaborated on Superbad, co-writing and producing respectively, and they've done the same jobs on Drillbit Taylor, starring Owen Wilson. Its three nerdy heroes are almost identical to the ones in Superbad, only now, instead of coming to the end of their high school careers, they're at the beginning. Targeted by bullies on their first day, they decide to hire a bodyguard, and give the job to a homeless veteran, Wilson, who claims to have been discharged from the army for "unauthorised heroism". He keeps an eye on his charges by posing as a substitute teacher, but he soon has his other eye on a genuine teacher, Leslie Mann.

Drillbit Taylor has obviously learnt a few lessons from The School of Rock, another comedy about an unqualified, unhygienic liability who pretends to be a substitute teacher, and comes to respect the kids he'd intended to exploit. It isn't in the same class, though. Like most of Apatow's productions, it's not so much a story as a stack of sketches which are arranged in a more or less logical order and then taped together with montages. But it's still more watchable than the average Hollywood comedy, thanks to Wilson's goofy charm, and a joke-packed script which has a soft heart, even while it acknowledges just how horrible children can be to each other.