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Vaughn Breaks Christmas Movie Cycle

BURBANK, Calif. - After he broke away from the Frat Pack with his 2006 hit The Break-Up, Vince Vaughn's career took an interesting detour - to the North Pole.

Somehow the slick dude who was money in 1996's Swingers became Hollywood's yuletide joker of choice. First he was Santa's black-sheep brother in 2007's Fred Claus. Then he suffered through multiple family celebrations with Reese Witherspoon in last year's Four Christmases. Could his indelible take on Frosty the Snowman be far behind?

Two pals who know a thing or two about holiday films - Jon Favreau, the director of Elf, and Peter Billingsley, the BB-gun-obsessed Ralphie in A Christmas Story - did a ho-ho-ho intervention. With Billingsley as a first-time director and Favreau as a fellow writer and actor, they helped Vaughn star in, co-write and produce the mistletoe-free Couples Retreat, a randy relationship romp shot in Bora Bora that opens Friday.

"This is the fourth movie we've done together," says Billingsley, 38, who first met Vaughn, 39, about 20 years ago when they did an ABC Afterschool Special on the danger of steroids. "Vince was kind enough to give me the title of director, but there is not one decision that we don't make as a team."

Adds Vaughn: "As a child actor, Peter made a tough transition by learning to edit and do screenplays. Jon loved him as a producer on Made and Iron Man, and I was lucky to have him on The Break-Up. Peter elevates whatever he works on."

Asked if it is easy to direct the commanding 6-foot-5 actor, and Billingsley laughs. "He has a strong point of view, but I think we're a good sounding board for each other."

It was Billingsley's idea to set the comedy's Fantasy Island getaway on the French Polynesian paradise that last saw a film crew when 1979's Hurricane with Mia Farrow was shot there. "It's a pretty beautiful place," he says, "but we were definitely there to work."

It was never Vaughn's plan to do a string of Christmas films and he feels overdue for a drama. But then he floats this idea: "How about me and Peter in A Christmas Story 2?"

Too late. Billingsley confirms there already was a 1994 attempt, It Runs in the Family, with Charles Grodin as the dad and Kieran Culkin as Ralphie.

Well, they could always do a follow-up to their Afterschool Special.

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