Like Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow has tried to extend his franchise, and like Sandler, the result is diluted, derivative, and disappointing. Director Steven Brill (of the truly terrible “Without a Paddle,” “Ready to Rumble,” and Sandler’s biggest flop, “Little Nicky”) captures the letter but not the spirit of the Apatow oeuvre. You can hear the pitch now: “A PG-13 ‘Superbad!'” As in that film, we have a schlubby pair of best friends, one fat (Troy Gentile as Ryan) and one thin (Nate Hartley as Wade), who want nothing more than to be cool and get girls to like them.
But there is a bully who tortures them so badly they decide to hire a bodyguard, Drillbit Taylor (Owen Wilson), who tells them he is a former Ranger who has experience with Black Ops and protecting high-profile celebrities. His plan is to take their money and leave town, but one of his other low-life friends persuades him to stick around and get as much as he can from the boys. Drillbit becomes attached to them and to the vision of himself he sees in their eyes.
A gimmicky thriller without much of a gimmick or many thrills, “Vantage Point” suffers, too, from being out of synch with its time. Its premise may be current — an assassination attempt at an anti-terrorism summit — but its tone is off. A good thriller — or even a good episode of “Law and Order” — uncovers our underlying fears, recognizes that they are closely tied to curiosity, and pushes them to the point of pleasurable fear and cathartic release. This film clumsily builds on the headlines with a simplistic story that, even told in mosaic bits and pieces is obvious and clunky, with big logical gaps. It would be more intriguing to see the same story told several times from different perspectives, each one adding another layer of information, if the underlying story was worthwhile. But this story of a terrorist attack at an anti-terrorism summit, is too thin to withstand the repetition. Instead of making it deeper and more complex, the retellings get tiresome and overblown.