I’m guessing that what happened here is that BFFs Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man but here as an actor), Vince Vaughn, and Peter Billingsley (star of A Christmas Story-turned director) decided that it would be a lot of fun to go off to a beautiful island together and so they decided to make it a business trip by creating a story they could film there.
And I am guessing that their home movie of that trip would have been more entertaining than this dull, drawn-out, mess of a film about four couples who go to a resort that is somewhere between “Fantasy Island” and “Dr. Phil.”
These are the kinds of couples with a friendship you only see in movies. They have nothing in common. They do not particularly seem to like each other. They do not appear to know anyone else. And yet, they are always up in each other’s bidness, hugely involved in the tiniest details and decisions, far more than in their own, so much so that they are constantly conference-calling each other on their cell phones, inviting each other to make crucial decisions about their lives. Possibly the hardest to believe, they are not only mandatory attendees at a birthday party held for a very young child of one of the couples, they all wander off in the middle of the party, including the child’s parents, for a power point presentation on one couple’s marital breakdown (apparently a welcome relief following a previous series on the husband’s testicular cancer). The couple (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell) have arranged for a group rate at a resort and guilt everyone to going along with them: the couple who are distracted with young children (Vaughn and “Watchmen’s” Malin Akerman), the couple who are furious with each other (Favreau and “Sex in the City’s” Kristin Davis), and the recently separated Shane (Faizon Love) with his new 20-year-old girlfriend (Kali Hawk) who calls him “Daddy” and wants to party all the time.
While the other couples planned to relax and enjoy the island, it turns out that the couples counseling is mandatory, starting at sunrise — sort of Dr. Phil boot camp. There is much attempted hilarity from a scantily-clad male yoga instructor getting very up close and personal with both the men and women (a lot of homosexual and adultery panic in this movie) as he demonstrates the poses. There is much attempted hilarity from the counseling sessions and from a child twice confusing a store display with a working toilet. None actually occurs.
Individual scenes drag and the movie as a whole sags. Episodes are thrown together haphazardly and run on forever. There are innumerable references, for some reason, to Applebee’s and there is an extended and pointless, even by the low standards of this film, excruciatingly drawn out game of Guitar Hero. And we are supposed to care about these people and believe that they have actually learned some important lessons about communication and not taking each other for granted. It fails at comedy, it fails at warming our hearts and it fails at making us care enough about any of these characters to want them to work out their problems. Instead, we just keep wishing they would get out of the way and let us enjoy the pretty scenery.