The Guys from 'Superbad' Are So Back

Metro film critic Daniel Holloway screens this week's movie releases, including the Judd Apatow-produced Owen Wilson vehicle Drillbit Taylor, Under the Same Moon and The Grand.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Thanks, Laura.

LAURA CONAWAY: Thank you.

STEWART: The guys who brought you "Superbad" are back. There is a movie that will likely make Lou Dobbs go ballistic, and a boxing movie starring a cable TV and radio star. What to do, what to do? Let's ask Daniel Holloway, BPP movie guru, and critic for Metro newspaper. Hi, Daniel, good morning!

Mr. DANIEL HOLLOWAY (Movie Critic, Metro): Hey, Alison.

STEWART: All right, we're going to start with "Drillbit Taylor," about a drifter of a guy who convinces some loser kids that he can be their own personal bodyguard. The film, you know, if you look at it on the paper, it's got this pedigree is kind of great - Seth Rogen of "Superbad" is one of the screenwriters. Jud Apatow of "Knocked Up" is a producer. John Hughes of '80s movie fame involved, Owen Wilson stars. So, does hilarity ensue?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Well, it's - you know, you mentioned that Seth Rogen also co-wrote "Superbad," and, of course, Apatow produced that also - think of this movie as a prequel to "Superbad," with a homeless bodyguard thrown into it. You have your overweight, loud kid, your shy, skinny, unassuming kid, and then you have basically your "McLovin" character, this scrawny, freak, weirdo friend, and they have adventures. And instead of finishing high school, they're beginning high school.

STEWART: So, they're younger, they're sort of 14 - 15?

MR. HOLLOWAY: Yeah. They're like - they're freshmen.

STEWART: All right. Well, let's take a listen to Owen Wilson. He's the homeless, wannabe bodyguard to these kids, trying to describe to the kids what he's really all about.

(Soundbite of movie "Drillbit Taylor")

Mr. OWEN WILSON: (As Drillbit Taylor) I'm Drillbit Taylor, U.S. Army Ranger, black ops operative, decorated marksman, improvised weapons expert.

Unidentified Actor #1: Are you still in the military?

Mr. WILSON: (As Drillbit Taylor) I was discharged. Unauthorized heroism. They call me an army of one in the ads, but...

STEWART: That was funny!

Mr. WILSON: (As Drillbit Taylor) As a bodyguard, I've protected three vice presidents, Bobby Brown, Sylvester Stallone, not as tough as he looks. So, what's the story? Who do you guys need protection from?

Unidentified Actor #2: This should be easy for you. Just a high school bully.

Mr. WILSON: (As Drillbit Taylor) Yeah. Run into a few of those in my life. What'd you do to provoke him?

Unidentified Actor #1: Well, he's fat and he's a dork, and I'm awesome.

Unidentified Actor #2: Oh, shut up.

Mr. WILSON: (As Drillbit Taylor) By "awesome," you mean scared, skinny and lonely?

Unidentified Actor #1: Yeah.

Mr. WILSON (as Drillbit Taylor): Yeah.

STEWART: Yeah.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah.

STEWART: I've been all three of those things at the same time in my life, I have to tell you. I'm sort of feeling with these kids, I want my own bodyguard! Funny or no, is this for kids that age?

MR. HOLLOWAY: It's, you know, for a little bit younger than "Superbad." It's still pretty raunchy, but it feels a little younger. It's not as funny as "Superbad" or "Knocked Up." Owen Wilson is a welcome presence in any movie, as far as I'm concerned. My problem with him is that he does too many movies that he probably shouldn't. This is kind of on-the-fence between good and he's definitely done worse things. But, you know, he helps the film out a lot. The kids are cute and funny, and there are some good dirty jokes in it. So, it's like "Superbad"-lite, I'd say.

STEWART: If you're watching this movie, you know, we all know that Owen Wilson went through a really bad personal patch, tabloids went running with it, suggesting that he tried to commit suicide. Seeing him on screen doing this funny guy role, was that in your mind at all as you were watching? Or...

MR. HOLLOWAY: A little bit, you know, you're just happy to see him back and doing the work, and you know, and seeming to have fun with it - he always seems - I think that's what was shocking to everybody when that stuff started coming out, because he always seems like a guy who's having fun, which is a very cliche thing to say, you know, oh, you look like you had so much fun making this movie. Well, it's work.

STEWART: Right.

MR. HOLLOWAY: But, yeah, again, he's a welcome presence in any film, and it's good to have him back working.

STEWART: The next movie we want to talk about is called "Under the Same Moon." This is the movie I said that will make Lou Dobbs' eyes roll back in his head. It's a story of a boy crossing the border into the United States from Mexico to find his illegal immigrant mother. We just have to play a little bit of the trailer, to get an overview of the film. So let's listen to this.

(Soundbite of movie "Under the Same Moon")

Mr. ADRIAN ALONSO: (As Carlitos) My mom says when I miss her, I should look at the moon, because she'll be looking at it, too. She's been working in America for four years so she can bring me there soon.

Ms. KATE DEL CASTILLO: (As Rosario) Carlitos?

Mr. ALONSO: (As Carlitos) Mommy! But when my grandma died, I couldn't wait any more.

Ms. AMERICA FERRERA: (As Marta) Are you able?

Mr. EUGENIO DERBEZ: (As Enrique) I don't know about this.

Mr. ALONSO: (As Carlitos) I can do it.

Ms. FERRERA: (As Marta) You have to be quiet, Carlitos!

Ms. MARIA MORENO: (Through loudspeaker) Welcome to the United States of America.

Ms. YVETTE MERCEDES: (As Border Patrol Agent) Get out of the car, please.

Ms. FERRERA: (As Marta): I'm sorry. Is there a problem?

Ms. MERCEDES: (As Border Patrol Agent) Open the trunk.

STEWART: OK, is this a tearjerker?

MR. HOLLOWAY: It's a tearjerker. It's also in Spanish. That trailer is really deceptive, like...

STEWART: The movie is in Spanish?

MR. HOLLOWAY: Yeah. Ninety-eight percent of the film is in Spanish.

STEWART: So, they took every English part of the movie and put it in the trailer.

MR. HOLLOWAY: And actually, I think his monologue in the beginning is something that he says in the film in Spanish that they had the actor reread. It's funny, the woman's voice you actually hear there is actually America Ferrera from "Ugly Betty," who has a small part in the film playing an American Chicana who comes to Mexico.

But she's only in basically that one scene, and that's the extent of the English that we get in the film. Yeah, it's a tearjerker, there's some, as you can tell, there's some really maudlin music involved. But the kid is adorable, he's probably like - his name is Adrian Alonso, and he's got to be like the most adorable kid actor in North America. I mean, he's great, and...

STEWART: Is it a political movie at all?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Political in the sense that's there's definitely a message at one point. You know, one character turns to the little boy because he's complaining because his mother has gone to Los Angeles and has been gone for four years to send money back so that he can have things like, you know, clothing and schooling. And he's mad at his mother - the premise of the movie is through a series of events he has to cross the border and go to L.A., and try to find her alone at nine years old.

And he's traveling with someone and expresses anger at his mother, and the guy's like, listen, you know, what part of this did you enjoy? Picking tomatoes, running from the INS? Nobody does this unless they have a good reason to do it. And that is the message of the movie very much, is showing us that the people who cross the border illegally are people, and that they have extraordinary reasons for doing so because it is not a fun thing to do, as Lou Dobbs seems to think it is.

STEWART: It's about survival.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Right.

STEWART: Would you call this a "must see"? "Could see"? "Don't want to see"?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: You know, it's difficult when you find films whose politics you agree with but aren't quite up to snuff. I wouldn't say it's a bad movie. the kid is adorable. there're some good performances in it. But it is quite maudlin at times.

STEWART: OK. That is called "Under the Same Moon." We're going to move on to some funny stuff.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah!

STEWART: This one is called "The Grand," and it's described as an "improvised comedy about poker." So, the dialogue is all improv?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah, it's done in the style of the Christopher Guest movies, all though Christopher Guest is not involved, like "Waiting for Guffman," "Best in Show," "A Mighty Wind," and what it is, is a poker tournament in Vegas. And what I believe the background of the film is that director Zak Penn actually had his characters play through the final poker table to see who the last two players would win. So, in reality, the character who wins the poker tournament is the actor who won a poker tournament that they shot.

STEWART: That's pretty cool. I'm going to ask you about Zak Penn in a minute, but I want to ask you about the cast a little bit. Woody Harrelson, "Saturday Night Live's" Chris Parnell, and in this scene, it's a brother and sister poker team played by David Cross and Cheryl Hines from "Curb Your Enthusiasm." She's very funny. Here they are explaining their poker skills.

(Soundbite of movie "The Grand")

Mr. PHIL GORDON: (As Tournament Announcer) At this point in your careers, you're top players. And you basically never have that moment when you look at your cards and you go, hey, what is this thing? what is this card? what am I looking at?

Ms. CHERYL HINES: (As Lainie Schwartzman) I don't understand the question, like, what we think we're going to flop with our...

Mr. GORDON: (As Tournament Announcer) No, actually, like, the cards themselves, like, you know, with the Werbe Method. Of course I have my remedial exercises and the flash cards where people get to practice, they get to practice the cards and memorize them. But I'm guessing that at this point in your careers you never really have that moment where you go, hey, is that a three or a four? is that a spade? is that a club? You sort of - is it like a six sense that you got now going? How does it work?

Mr. DAVID CROSS: (As Larry Schwartzman) Um, well, no, it's actually one of the five senses, which is vision, because I know how to read numbers, and my brain can distinguish between shapes.

STEWART: That's so funny. So, that's all improvised.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah, I believe it's done in the same way as Guest's movies, where there's a rough sketch of where the plot will go, and...

STEWART: Does it wander off though, or - I mean, that one bit is particularly funny. Do you have to wait for the funny through periods of not-so-funny?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: There are definitely times when you have to wait for the funny. The problem with this film is that unlike those Guest films, or unlike "Spinal Tap" or other, you know, improvised films that we've seen, you know, those Guest films, the characters feel like real characters in a film, they feel like characters in life, no matter how extreme their behavior may be they still feel like real characters.

These characters at times feel like characters in a sketch, and they at times feel like characters in different sketches. That one sports - Cross and Cheryl Hines are pros, and they're really good, but the fellow who plays the poker announcer who's interviewing them, his character is just annoying, and seems to belong in this completely different movie where he's doing like weird mock commercials with crazy graphics, and it's just too strange a change of pace, but...

STEWART: And this isn't really Zak Penn's world. He's done other films like "X-Men," right?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah. Oh, wait, no.

STEWART: The director of this film?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Brian Singer did that.

STEWART: One of them. Or wrote one of them. He's involved with "X-Men" somehow.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Yeah. This is somehow - this is definitely a change of pace for Penn. And it doesn't - I'm not quite sure that it works.

STEWART: OK. Finally, "The Hammer." It's a boxing movie. I think it looks better than it should be. I went through a lot of the trailer, and - well, I shouldn't say that. Let's say it looks familiar. And it stars Adam Carolla of "The Man Show." What's the basic story?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: OK. Here's the story. You've got an older, working-class, Italian boxer past his physical peak.

(Soundbite of song "Theme from 'Rocky'")

Mr. HOLLOWAY: He gets involved in a scheme plotted by boxing overlords. But then he comes in and he exceeds all expectations!

STEWART: I'm running up the stairs to the Philadelphia Library!

Mr. HOLLOWAY: No, you're in Los Angeles! You live in a faceless apartment complex in Los Angeles.

STEWART: I'm not Rocky Balboa?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: You're not Rocky Balboa. You're...

STEWART: OK, what's the character's name?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: You're Jerry Ferro.

STEWART: OK.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Carpenter, sort of homeless, he's played by Adam Carolla of "The Man Show" and "Loveline" fame.

STEWART: Yes. Let's take a listen to Adam playing this character, this sort of 40-year-old, not really in shape guy who's going to try to box. He's talking to one of the other boxers at the gym.

(Soundbite of movie "The Hammer")

Mr. KEVIN FERGUSON: (As Jeff) Hey, Jerry.

Mr. ADAM CAROLLA: (As Jerry Ferro) What's going on?

Mr. FERGUSON: (As Jeff) I'm entering my first tournament.

Mr. CAROLLA: (As Jerry Ferro) Fantastic. You've been boxing for like four weeks. You think that's a good plan?

Mr. FERGUSON: (As Jeff) Oh, I'm ready for this one. It's the Gay Games.

Mr. CAROLLA: (As Jerry Ferro) But Jeff, you're not gay...

Mr. FERGUSON: (As Jeff) No, no, but they don't check! That's the beauty of it! I figure I'll get a little competitive experience, you know? Kick a little ass!

Mr. CAROLLA: (As Jerry Ferro) I don't know, I've seen some of those guys. they're pretty ripped.

Mr. FERGUSON: (As Jeff) Come on! You think I'm going to lose to a guy who enters the ring to Barbara Streisand?

Mr. CAROLLA: (As Jerry Ferro) Uh, I think you'd lose to Barbara Streisand.

Mr. FERGUSON: (As Jeff) Come on. I've learned from the best.

STEWART: Do you have to like Adam Carolla to like this movie? Yeah?

Mr. HOLLOWAY: A little bit, yeah. And I kind of like him. A little bit. I mean, I wasn't thrilled with "The Man Show," but I find him funny sometimes, and I find this movie funny sometimes. The plot is basically "Rocky," you know, and that's weird. But turning "Rocky" into a romantic comedy isn't the worst idea in the world, and you know, there are some subtle things about this film.

The weirdest thing is that Adam Carolla does not look like Sylvester Stallone at any point in his life. He doesn't even look like - I mean, I may as well be in the film. You know, he doesn't take his shirt off at all throughout the movie, you know. It's a little difficult to believe that he can beat up the people he beats up.

STEWART: All right. That one's called "The Hammer." Daniel Holloway is film critic for Metro, and helps us out on Fridays. Thanks, Dan! Nice to see you.

Mr. HOLLOWAY: Thank you! Good to see you.

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