DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Couples Retreat

Sunday 21 March 2010

Couples Retreat

Couple’s Retreat (2009) dir. Peter Billingsley
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Bell, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk


By Alan Bacchus

Just about the only thing this movie is good for is as a tourism video for Bora Bora. The failed comedy ensemble/Vince Vaughn vehicle is stunning to look at, but too good to look at.

You should never notice the cinematography in a comedy, nor the colour of the water, or the mountains in the background. Such is the case with Couples Retreat, co-written by Favreau and Vaughn, directed by Favreau’s Iron Man partner (and of course, former child star) Peter Billingsly and produced under the Vince Vaughn’s shingle Wild West Show Productions.

Old buddies David, Jason, Shane, Joey and their wives, Ronnie, Cynthia, Lucy and Trudy decide to go on a ‘couples retreat’ to Bora Bora in hopes of supporting Jason and Cynthia through their therapy sessions in paradise. When they arrive, it’s the most beautiful place on earth to them but before they even get to take in the activities, they get the ‘catch’- that each couple has to go through these same agonizing and intrusive therapy.

Each one complains about getting up at the crack of dawn to talk about their feelings. And as the sessions progress it brings up harboured insecurities and latent conflict which threatens to break up everything and thus, make the entire trip a disaster. To add fuel to the fire, is a ‘singles’ resort on the other side of island where all the fun is taking place, the ultimate temptation for the wary.

The first act has the couples in Chicago engaged in overly-long inane conversation setting up the shenanigans. In fact, just about every scene is twice as long as it should. It takes almost 25mins before they even get to the island. I guess Vaughn and the bunch forgot their Shakespeare: ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’. There’s also four or so characters too many. Getting rid of Faison Love’s awful plotting with his new 20 year old girlfriend and the reunification with his wife at the single’s resort is never funny. And even Favreau and Davis’ plotlines verge on sick and twisted.

'Couple’s Retreat' keeps their ‘relationship humour’ on the surface, never quite digging deep into the comedy of how men and women relate. Much too many sexual sight-gags and boner jokes, European speedo references go for the easy laugh.

As mentioned, the stunning locale and its impossibly blue waters (which looks to be colour timed to be even more blue) hypnotize into a trance where we forget we’re even watching a comedy. The casting of a bunch of hotties as the wives and girlfriends helps distract us from the fact that they don’t do much in the script other than play off the goofing around of Vaughn and the boys – it was the same way with the male-centred “The Break Up”, also scripted and produced by Vaughn. We can’t help but think how it all would have played with the likes of funnier, though arguably less bikini-friendly gals Jane Lynch, Amy Poehler, and Kristin Wiig

“Couples Retreat” is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment


matbaa said...

ordinary acting performance and story but i like cinematography of the film.

M. Carter @ the Movies said...

I had high hopes for Kristen Bell's movie career after "Veronica Mars," but she's busted my balloon. She is capable of so much more than these pat, insultingly predictable romantic comedies!