With some frightfully funny and daringly profane comedies under his belt, Judd Apatow decided to change tack and make a John Hughes style family friendly comedy, conveniently forgetting that if you take the profanity, irreverence and nudity out of an R rated comedy, you are often left with a boring film.
That proves the case here, when two even geekier PG versions of the Superbad guys strike trouble with bullies in their first year of high school and seek the protection of a bodyguard financed with pocket money.
The audition process proves the only mildly amusing sequence in this mostly painful two hours, where the usual montage of comedians improvise their increasingly silly pitch to the lads. Of course when Drillbit Taylor saunters in full of bluster and lies, the boys are fooled and the viewers doomed.
It isn’t like the film is painful, it is as harmless and predictable as they come, but joyless and dull. Will Drillbit be as good as he advertises? Will he use the boys for his own means? Will they ultimately learn a lesson in believing in oneself and standing on one’s own two feet? Will Drillbit learn to love and respect the very children he just started fleecing?
Will I ever hear the F bomb or see some boobies? Not here. You won’t laugh either, unless you have a dangerously hair trigger laugh instinct.
The ‘rap off’ between one of the geeks and the lead ‘tough guy’ left me shaking my head, first at the ‘skills’ of the two combatants, then at the fact that the ebbing throng around them felt sufficiently inspired to burst into spontaneous applause.
By the time the least convincing fist fight ever closes the film and the credits finally invoke the mercy rule, I was yearning for a return to Superbad and the 40 year old Virgin, adult comedies with both mature subject matter and actual laughs. Owen Wilson tries hard, but he’s pushing a river uphill with this material…
Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. Can it be the sex, profanity and nudity that made the earlier films? On the strength of this; yes.