It's the 70's in Virginia and Norma Lewis (Cameron Diaz) is a typical housewife teaching classes on the side. Her husband Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) is a NASA scientist and ridiculously commited to his wife and their one son Walter (Sam Oz Stone), what could go wrong?!
Let's throw in Martians.
The story starts when a mysterious man (Frank Langella) with an intense (clearly CGI'd) burn on the missing half of his face shows up at Diaz's door offering a proposition. The deal is simple. He leaves a box with the family for 24 hours. The box has a button. Push the button, someone they don't know dies and they get One million dollars. Don't push the button, he comes back, leaves and life goes on.
About a third of the movie is them deciding whether or not they want to push the "mysterious" button. Until finally stress becomes too much and Diaz smacks the living shit out of the thing. They think they've been had, the box is hollow, the button connects to nothing, how could the man know?
So now the family finds themselves in a series of Unfortunate Events the likes of which Jim Carey has never before witnessed. They're tossed in and out of clues and plot devices which really by the end feel like a small waste of time. I'm not going to ruin the plot for you, because I'm not quite even sure where the plot stopped.
But let's put it this way, they took an interesting philosophical question and story and turned it into a half-assed mystery which is supposed to turn the viewer's mind until they can't follow it at all, ultimately wrapping it all up at the end. It kind of did that.
Much like all stories turned movie, it was pretty well off as a story and in all honesty probably would've been better if all the unexplainable elements were not introduced. But instead, you got a hollywood production with 70's dressing styles, horrible wallpaper, and not quite awkward cgi effects.
And if that doesn't tell you to watch this movie, consider this: