Growing up is hard to do
This is billed as a film about "Love, Marriage, Friendship, and Wife Swapping", and that's a reasonable summary. The movie is basically an update on Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, so much so that 1969 film is continually referenced throughout, seemingly every five or ten minutes.
The first part of the film is very unsubtle, every moment supporting the wife swapping angle. We get to know the characters, but they take too much of a backseat to the story. Eric Meyer, the closest to a single protagonist as you'll get here, has been "joking" about the concept for years. By the middle of the film. we're feeling like we've heard him jabber on the topic for almost as long. When the characters finally start moving on the idea, it's a bit of a relief.
Halfway through, I realized I still didn't have a good idea of the character names. Even paying special attention for them, it was difficult to get right. By the credits, I was as proud of finally figuring it out, as the characters were for getting through their bizarre little rite of passage.
The film gets better in the second half, once we get past the "we know where we're going, but can't deal with that just yet" phase. There's some actual exploration of the themes of the film here, rather than jockeying for position to make the ending work. Most of the script decisions here are fairly obvious ones, and the ending is a little pat, but at least the characters are shown honestly dealing with the situation they're in. I'm being vague here, but there's not an awful lot I'm leaving out, as so much is fairly predictable.
John Stamos is one of our four leads, and is making a very strategic effort to update his image from his decade of "Uncle Jesse" on television's Full House. He's better than I would have expected, but I still felt he wasn't quite alive in the role. That's partly the script's fault, but Stamos' restrained performance could have been shaken up a little.
The best part of the film is the joking, goateed friend who is always pushing the guys on lascivious topics, but needs to be handed a clue when more interesting things start happening. It could be tempting to expand the character more, but I think it was about right in the movie. The characters just needed a little more oomph to them.
I'm not sure what went on between the director and cinematographer on this one. There's a number of shots where the focus or depth-of-field is played with, usually to the distraction, rather than the reinforcement, of the narrative.
It wouldn't take much more to make this a decent, watchable film, but it would be nice to have seen a more imaginative angle on the topic.
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