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'Drillbit Taylor'

The Judd Apatow consortium is at it again: Having double-whammied audiences this past summer with sweetly sentimental raunch for both gals (Knocked Up) and guys (Superbad), the Apatow rep company has cued up a matched set of comedies for spring: Drillbit Taylor for the kids, and the forthcoming Forgetting Sarah Marshall for the romantics.

The setup: Three dweeby high-school freshmen hire the title character — a homeless bum played by Owen Wilson — to protect them from the school bully. The payoff: Punches get thrown (the funniest being ones the kids practice on each other so they'll know how they feel), groins get kicked, friendships get cemented, and Life Lessons get learned.

The bottom line: It's generic, but crowd-pleasing.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.