Posted on Saturday, March 22nd, 2008 by Peter Sciretta
What if I told you that the hottest comedy producer in Hollywood today, Judd Apatow, was making a movie written by 80’s pop-directing legend John Hughes and Seth Rogen? I’d say it’s in theaters, and you didn’t even care to go see it.
Drillbit Taylor actually began as a story from John Hughes. You know, the guy who was responsible for most of our favorite films from the 1980’s – National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, European Vacation, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Planes Trains & Automobiles, Uncle Buck, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone. Hughes dropped out of filmmaking in 1991, but continued to do some work for hire script work under the pseudonym Edmond DantÃ¨s (a reference to the main character in Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo). And even then, he’s not had a credit in the last six years.
After the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Judd Apatow was approached by Paramount to develop Drillbit Taylor, based on a treatment Hughes had turned in years ago, but never turned into a script. SuperBad co-screenwriter/star Seth Rogen teamed up with Beavis and Butt-Head scribe Kristofor Brown on the feature length screenplay. This might explain why the film features three kids with similar character traits to those featured in Rogen’s SuperBad.
In fact, the characters were modeled after Rogen and his high school friends. When I got a chance to talk to SuperBad stars Michael Cera, Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, they told me how Seth’s friend, who was the basis of the Fogell/McLovin character, actual thought of himself of somewhat of a badass, and use to have Samurai Swords on his walls. It’s probably no coincidence that the Bully from Drillbit Taylor also has a love for Japanese Swords.
There is so much of Rogen in this script, that I’m actually quite curious how much of the story is actually attributed to Hughes. That said, the story feels like the type of story Hughes might have written. Maybe Rogen just fleshed it out and contributed the characters? And in that sense, the script is so much better than the film itself, probably due to the involvement of hack comedy director Steven Brill, who Apatow must owe for getting him his first feature length gig or something (Brill directed Apatow’s first feature length script, Heavy Weights in 1995).
And you might notice that the Wisconsin-based J.D. Salinger-like reclusive filmmaker/screenwriter is not credited on the final film, but instead is given story credit under his pseudonym Edmond DantÃ¨s.
Discuss: Did You See Drillbit Taylor? If So, What did you think? And Do you think John Hughes will ever return to Hollywood to pen a classic teen movie for the next generation?