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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Drillbit Taylor

I hate bullies. I remember when I was in college, my younger brother Clamato was just a freshman in high school and he was being hassled mercilessly by this behemoth that should have already been in college if he wasn’t so god-awful stupid. This thug had flunked three grades (which explained why he was 21 and still just a junior). He had also spent a year in juvie (which further clarified that other year holding him back from at least being a member of the Senior class), and, oh, did I mention he was simply dumber than used chewed gum.

This hairy-backed beast was, of course, the most popular guy in his class because he was the only one who could legally buy booze and he had more tattoos than Amy Winehouse in an era when it still took the signatures of both parents and the presence of at least one on site when a minor obtained such a thing at what was then called a “tattoo parlor”, the sort of depraved den of iniquity you’d usually only find under bridges in the worst parts of towns next to pool halls and “gentlemen’s clubs.” From the moment you met this mouth-breathing bully, you’d wish you had a bodyguard like
Drillbit Taylor to protect you.

Drillbit Taylor, for those who don’t know, is the title character of the new film starring Owen Wilson (You, Me and Dupree), now at the Essex Cinemas. In it, Owen plays a homeless vet who takes on the job of protecting three kids who are being tormented by the school’s biggest oppressor, a cretin named Filkins (Alex Frost; Stop Loss). The kids, who think Drillbit is a professional master of martial arts, give up all their savings in order to keep safe under his wing, unaware that the man they are putting their trust in is a con man who has plans to rob the kids’ homes and split for Alaska as soon as he can.

Okay, so maybe a bodyguard exactly like Drillbit wouldn’t be right for the situation my brother faced, but little did any of us in his family know how out of hand his problem had become. “Butch” Henderson, the ‘Filkins’ in his life, used to thrive on creating misery in the lives of the kids that were younger than he was, especially the smaller, weaker, nerdier, or overweight boys. In other words, as dim-witted as he may have been, he knew enough not to pick on someone his own size. He’d have ended up in a coma in no time.

Butch’s reign of terror seemed unchecked, mostly because the teachers were as frightened of him as the students. More than a few had found their cars keyed or their tires slashed after crossing the twelfth grade grotesque; it was always the type of infraction that the victims couldn’t actually prove was done by their not-so-juvenile delinquent.

So when Clamato and his best friend Spongeworthy fell under Butch’s view within the first days of
their freshman term, life became hell on earth. Butch shook the boys down every time he saw them, taking their every penny. If they weren’t carrying cash he did what he no doubt would do to any ATM that wasn’t working properly and give it a swift kick or a punch in the side. Occasionally, just for the pleasure that comes from public humiliation, Butch would de-pants one or the other of the boys in the restroom and then throw them out into the hallway between classes, when the halls were busier than Grand Central Station. Oh, and by “de-pantsing”, I mean underpants as well as trousers.

Well, since Clamato had no Soldier of Fortune magazine to advertise in for a Drillbit Taylor of his own, it fell upon him and his pal to find their own solution to stop this scourge of torture. Unlike the dozens that had fallen before them, ‘Mato and Sponge were not going to take it. They had at least a few thousand times the brain cells this tattooed twit had and they knew that it was brains that would bring down the brawn.

The plan they developed was delicious because it played on all the moron’s weaknesses: bullying, greed, voyeurism, trespassing, lust, and, best of all, his sheer stupidity. There has never been a senior prank that came close to what these two little frosh pulled off. As expected, while Clamato “attempted” (wink, wink) to pass a note to Spongeworthy in the hall in plain view of Butch one afternoon, the mental midget was all over the boys, snatching the piece of paper out of Spongeworthy’s hand before he could even unfold it. Thank goodness my brother realized who he was writing for and didn’t use any big words. The note read: “There is a HOT chick living at 535 Park Street and if you meet me in the backyard of the house next door at 537 around 10 o’clock tonight we can watch her get naked through her bedroom window. She never ever closes her drapes!!!”

“You little pervs,” Butch grinned from ear-to-ear. “You twerps wouldn’t know what to do with a naked chick if one jumped on top of you.” He eyed the paper one more time, then shook it in Clamato’s face. “Stay the hell away from there if you don’t want to look like a raccoon before morning, you little creep.” He made a fist with his free hand and then punched my brother hard in the chest. He wadded up the note, turned and crammed it in Sponge’s mouth, which was a huge relief because that was the one piece of the plan they weren’t sure of ~ how to get the note back so there would be no evidence of the boys’ involvement later on. Once everything was over, ‘Mato would tell me that as hard as that punch was that afternoon, he barely felt it because he knew it would be the last time this cheese-ball was going to intimidate him.

Right on cue that night, at 9:50 or so, Butch came sneaking like a weasel into the backyard at 537 Park. It was very thoughtful of Spongeworthy to leave the gate to the fenced-in yard wide open so Butch could sneak right in. It probably wasn’t quite as nice that he made sure to padlock it behind him less than five minutes later. It was even less hospitable, really, when, right at 10:00 pm, on schedule, the woman from the note appeared in her bedroom and began to disrobe. At 10:00 and 30 seconds, also on schedule, three important events occurred simultaneously. Spongeworthy let two Rottweilers out the backdoor of his family’s home at 537 Park Street. Also someone from 537 made a 9-1-1 call reporting a possible prowler or peeping Tom lurking in the bushes outside apparently peering into the bedroom window of the young co-ed next door. At that same exact time, Clamato pounded on my door screaming about a freak trying to climb over the fence to get into our yard, which (naïve moi) had me screaming to our father to get out to the backyard fast.

Between the dogs, Butch’s pants (which were not surprisingly around his knees when
the Rotties arrived), the sudden blinding light of both families’ backyard lights coming on simultaneously, the unpleasant appearance of my father’s hunting rifle pointed right at him as he fell over the top of the fence into our yard or the startling realization that he’d been had when he saw Clamato and Spongworthy standing amongst the crowd of family members and neighbors who quickly gathered, Butch knew he had nowhere to run (as if he could with his pants pooled around his ankles).

Butch’s reign of terror came to a close that night. It was one thing to pull these stunts when he was still a minor, but now the law looked on Butch as a potential predator, stalking a nearly naked teenager in the privacy of her own home. It’s a shame he always carried that damned Bowie knife in a sheath tied to his calf everywhere he went too. That didn’t help his case, and whether you took his long juvenile record into account or not, the judge and everybody else in the community was only human, and had had enough of him. He got six months in the county lock-up, but (allegedly) the facility was full, so the sheriff made arrangements to have him shipped off as far away as he could legally get away with, hoping Butch would never return, and he never did.

Of course my brother could never tell anybody what he and Spongeworthy had done to rid the town of their worst nightmare. That, of course, was a total letdown. At least the boys in Drillbit Taylor, Wade (debuting Nate Hartley), Ryan (Troy Gentile; Good Luck Chuck), and Emmitt (David Dorfman; The Ring Two) won bragging rights after they kicked Filkins’ sorry butt. It’s probably the only satisfaction these young actors are going to get, though, because the overall film itself doesn’t have much magic. Sadly, Wilson is not on his game as he was during his Wedding Crashers and Meet the Fokkers days (Drillbit Taylor finished production only weeks before his disturbing suicide attempt late last year), and without Owen at his zippiest, there is no real fun to be found at the heart of Drillbit Taylor. And that is one hard kick in the butt.

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