Couples Retreat (2009)
Couples Retreat (2009)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.

Release Date: October 9th, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Peter Billingsley Actors: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, Malin Ackerman, Kristen Bell

 


 

W

ho knew relationship therapy and marriage counseling could be so much fun? Sadly, it isn’t. While “Couples Retreat” has its moments of laugh-out-loud silliness, the themes and overall missions of each set of couples in the film are too serious to simply slide in a few one-liners and sight gags and expect it not to feel forced. Many missed opportunities for laughs (intrusive yoga instructors, “Guitar Hero” standoffs, and shark-infested waters could have been more comical) dull the proceedings and even funnyman Vince Vaughn seems crowded by too many others trying to steal an edge of the spotlight. With its picturesque tropical paradise setting, chances are the cast had more fun making the movie than anyone will have watching it.

When seemingly happy couple Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) announce they’ve been carefully planning a divorce, their married friends Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman), Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis), and Shane (Faizon Love) and his new girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk) are guilted into joining them on a tropical paradise vacation at the prestigious Eden Resort. Initial reluctance gives way to awe and excitement at the bevy of exotic sights and activities available at the retreat, until the couples realize that the relationship therapy portion is not only mandatory but strictly executed by a host of oddball “experts,” including the esteemed counselor Monsieur Marcel (Jean Reno). Forced into compromising positions and pressured into reflecting upon the imperfections of their own unions, each set of couples must now struggle to maintain their marriages while complying with the island’s rigorous regimen.

Every marriage has problems, but not all are meant to be solved. At least that’s what Dave believes in this mess of generic marital issues, commonplace romance, and predictable solutions. The location is certainly a paradise, but serves only to momentarily divert the eyes from the boring characters hashing out their unconvincing disagreements. Traveling to this “Disneyland for adults” (or as Favreau exclaims, “this looks like a screensaver!”) provides an opportunity for four distressed lovers to reignite the dying flames of love. What it doesn’t afford is a single new idea or fresh joke.

Bateman plays his usual character, as do Favreau and Vaughn, further amplifying the familiarity of the roles and situations. Jean Reno doesn’t stray far from his turn in “The Pink Panther” films, and the alarmingly suggestive, inappropriate yoga and uncomfortable nudity exercises strive for easy yet repetitive gags. The few scenes of therapy show the natural humor stemming from watching others discuss their relationship quandaries, the beach bodies are pleasantly frequent, and a few sequences absolutely don’t belong in “Couples Retreat” – almost as if they were brainstormed ideas that writers Vaughn and Favreau just couldn’t live without. As the four couples’ love lives are dissected, demolished, and then repaired, the only retreat moviegoers will find will be the back of their eyelids.

– The Massie Twins

  • 3/10