Couples Retreat (2009)

You know those films where the funniest parts are the ones you see in the 2 minute trailer? Couples Retreat, directed by Peter Billingsley and written by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, is one of those films. It’s hard to believe considering this film stars Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Jason Bateman. Perhaps my expectations for this film were too high. Perhaps I was subconsciously comparing this film to the likes of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Wedding Crashers. Perhaps I wasn’t in the ‘right’ mood when I went to see the film, but I couldn’t help leaving the theater feeling satisfied that I had a few giggles, but disappointed that a movie with such comedic talent fell short of incredible.

This film looks at 4 couples, all struggling with marital problems, who embark on a week long vacation in paradise. Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) are struggling to conceive and are on the brink of divorce. In an attempt to save their marriage, they convince their 6 closest friends to join them in Eden – a tropical paradise. Upon their arrival they realize that this place is actually paradise – blue sky, turquoise water, gorgeous accommodations, good food, and free booze. However, there is a catch. Each couple must participate in ‘couple’s therapy’ in order to maintain their place in the program. After much debate, each couple reluctantly agrees to participate. As the viewer witnesses each couples therapy session, we begin to see that even the couple that thought they were fine, turn out to have a few problems of their own.

While this film does a good job of bringing to light some of both the serious and mundane problems married couples can encounter, including infidelity, lack of communication, conception issues and lack of experience in the bedroom, the film’s ending doesn’t do ‘real life’ justice and maybe that’s the point.

Maybe this film was supposed to make light of the issues couple face on a daily basis and show viewers that a week long holiday and jet skis are the key to wedded bliss; but again, perhaps my expectations for this film were too high. I’m a huge advocate of using humor to help alleviate the stress that comes with many of life’s problems, and I think this movie had an opportunity to do that, but fell short of achieving that – perhaps in an effort to appeal to a greater audience.

This movie’s cast had the ability to make this movie unforgettable, and ultimately the script let them down. With so little opportunity to ad lib and just run with the scene’s vibe (as was often the case in The Hangover – arguably one of the best comedies of the year), the dialog and humor seemed both scripted and labored.

Vince Vaughn disappointed. Jason Bateman disappointed. Jon Favreau disappointed. This movie disappointed. While it had it’s moments – Vince Vaughn in shark infested waters, and Jason Bateman being man-handled by a yoga instructor – overall this movie fell flat. Save yourself $12.50 and rent this on DVD, and even then, do so only if there is absolutely no other film worth seeing available to rent.

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