Monday, March 24, 2008

Drillbit Taylor, or On High School

Your correspondent maintains a policy of not actually believing in the existence of Political Correctness; to him it seems something of a phantom organisation that people blame whenever they're not allowed to do gross things. However, the simple fact is that ten-odd years ago, there's no gee-gosh way in heck a movie like Drillbit Taylor would've got made.

Here's a movie that presents high-school bullies not as misunderstood sympathy cases, but as stone-cold freaking psychos; a movie where the best way to deal with what is clearly a young man in serious need of psychological attention is to hire a homeless vet to beat the shit out of him. And a movie, charmingly, that devotes the bulk of its emotional resources to persuading you that if said vet ingrains himself deeply enough into proper society as to secure continued sexual relations with a gullible teacher, that probably, the whole thing can be said to have been a roaring success.

Because Drillbit Taylor is charming as all get out: the young leads all exude a precocious world-weariness, while never seeming out of place on their first week of high school. And the Butterscotch Stallion, the officially anointed Loveliest Man in Hollywood, Mr Wilson himself, is as aw-darn sweet as ever.

Much like lamented longtime cancellee Parker Lewis Can't Lose, this is a high school world in which every every minute of every day is the most important, high-stakes, life-or-death moment of your short life; and like that show, the joke is in how utter our protagonists' investment in that world is. And also like that show, one of the nicest touches is the clever little moments in which the metaphor is reversed: high school is terrifying, but the foreign, adult world is where the real insanity begins.

[originally appeared on Flicks]

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