Couples Retreat (2009)

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Published on: 2009.10.10

Despite mostly negative reviews, Couples Retreat isn’t that bad.

Yes, it features perhaps the oddest character ever played by Jean Reno (better known for The Professional, Godzilla, Ronin, and The Da Vinci Code), a strangely calm performance by Vince Vaughn, a few odd edits, and at times feels like a series of Mad TV sketches. And the ending is a little contrived.

But it’s fun, funny, and feels good. There’s also a message here.

The message is pretty clear from the beginning: Relationships take work, and they’re worth it because you don’t want to end up alone.

The basic storyline is about four couples, each in varying stages of relationship break-down, who pool their money to go on a tropical couples retreat, each with a different ulterior motive. The retreat isn’t quite what they expected, but disappointment eventually gives way to repairing their relationships.

For me, the funniest parts weren’t the “big jokes” written in to the script, but rather the tiny moments in between them — the way the characters react to each other. Tiny rolls of the eyes, quick glances, small shrugs, and so on. Those parts also helped the movie to feel more real-life.

Faizon Love, despite being an excellent actor, probably should have been written out of this movie. Both my wife and I felt his character was inserted for two gratuitous reasons: (1) some of the jokes only work if it’s a black guy, and (2) some of the jokes only work if it’s a fat guy. It was just a little insulting to our intelligence, but Love carried out his part perfectly, so you almost don’t notice.

Of the eight people (four couples), the relationships were believable. Love’s character is already divorced and is with a 20-year-old girlfriend (the gorgeous Kali Hawk). Jon Favreau (who incidentally graduated from the same high school as my wife) and his character’s wife are planning on a divorce after their kid goes to college. Jason Bateman and his character’s wife can’t have children and it’s driving them to distraction. Vaughn’s couple is the most stable, but there are obvious problems between them.

The part that wasn’t believable is how quickly and easily everything was straightened out at the end.

It also felt odd that the five male leads were much more well-known than the five female leads. You’d think with that many high-level male leads, they could have drawn at least one A-list actress.

Favreau and Vaughn have teamed up for much funnier movies, and Vaughn has certainly done better on his own (Volleyball, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Four Christmases, Wedding Crashers).

The funniest moments overall were both involving a toilet, a home improvement store, and the child of Vaughn’s character.

Setting? Perfect. I believe it was Bora Bora, but can’t be sure.

Still, there’s nothing here that requires an expensive trip to the theater; a DVD rental will be just fine. Grab a snack and relax. It’ll be okay.

IMDb: Couples Retreat
Wikipedia: Couples Retreat
Rating: PG-13
(for sexual content and language — due to appeal)
(originally rated R for some sexual material)
Length: 107 min. (1:47)
Director: Peter Billingsley
Genre: Comedy
My Rating: 6 of 10
Family Friendly: No
(mostly mature themes, with quite a few sexual references)
Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith, Jean Reno, Carlos Ponce

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