Every few years a filmmaker gets the bright idea to make a film featuring the kind of people he or she knew in college, gather them together for a weekend somewhere in the country, and explore how much — or how little — things have changed in the intervening years. The result is invariably another BIG CHILL-style ensemble comedy, but depending on the likability of the characters, such sentimental nostalgia can easily leave the viewer pining for the days when such people traveled in packs and could be easily avoided.
Fifteen years after they hit their peak at the 1991 senior concert with a soulful rendition of Genesis' "Take Me Home," a collegiate a cappella singing group is about to make a big comeback. They've been asked to sing together at the upcoming Hamptons wedding of one of their own, Greg (Mark Feuerstein), who's about to tie the knot. The plan is for the members and their respective partners to rendezvous for a few days of practice and relaxation at the family summer "lodge" of singer Jeff Spooner (Chris Bowers), a free-spirited astrophysicist with an affinity for sarongs and Franciscan penitent robes. Computer-tech-support supervisor David (David Harbour) has learned more than he ever wanted to know about "youthful bliss of ignorance and the melancholy of life," and fears aging so much that he's resisting his wife Dana's (Rosemarie DeWitt) hints they start a family of their own. When he arrives at Spooner's Hamptons house, he finds his old buddies dealing with their own encroaching mid-life crises. Attorney and diehard New Yorker Richard (Reg Rogers) has just emerged from a bitter — and expensive — divorce. Aspiring actor Will (Samrat Chakrabarti), who arrives with his new girlfriend, Julep (Elizabeth Reaser), is tired of being cast as "Terrorist No. 1" on account of his ethnicity. Uptight financial consultant Ted (Alexander Chaplin), who somehow found himself married to a raucous, potty-mouthed kook (Molly Shannon) with no boundaries, has just been laid off. And Steven (David Alan Basche), a successful TV producer married to a Martha Stewart clone (Liz Stauber), has never forgiven Greg for sleeping with his college girlfriend. Steven and his wife's nubile, 23-year-old Swedish nanny, Elsa (wooden, underweight model Camilla Thorsson), serves as the Meg Tilly character of the piece: She's the outsider who questions the group's values, reminds them all they're no longer young and generally stirs things up.
While the women roll their eyes, the men share memories, take stock of their lives, get busted for soliciting a prostitute, learn to be grateful for what they've got and talk, talk, talk. Sometimes they stop talking long enough to sing. It's all well acted but follows the BIG CHILL formula far too closely to feel fresh. And even with all that chatter, it's pretty insubstantial stuff. The boys' laddish catchphrase — "Shut up!" — is particularly irritating, especially since they never do. leave a comment --Ken Fox