Written by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn & Dana Fox
Directed by Peter Billingsley
Running Time: 1:47
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.
Couples Retreat had everything going for it, yet didn't live up to its potential.
Four couples, all in varying stages of their relationships, ending up going on a couples retreat in order to save the marriage of one of the couples. There is Dave and Ronnie (Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman), the happily married couple with 2 kids who seem to have everything in order, although there may be something simmering underneath. Then there is Joey and Lucy (Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis), who married because Lucy got pregnant and once their teen daughter leaves for college, they're going to separate, although no one else knows about it. There is also Shane and Trudy (Faizon Love and Kali Hawk), who only recently started dating, even though Trudy is not even half Shane's age. Shane just got divorced from his wife and is trying to have a little fun. And finally we have the anal retentive couple Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell), who need this retreat to save their marriage otherwise they'll get divorced. Can these four couples find the recipe needed to save their relationships?
Look at that cast... Vaughn, Favreau, Bell, Davis, Ackerman, Bateman, Love... all well known actors and all very talented. I mean, if you had a movie with just Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau there's a good chance it'll be entertaining. Now throw in the fact Vaughn and Favreau co-wrote the film and you'd think this would be the comedy blockbuster of the year. And yet... it just wasn't that funny. What I did find funny is the amount of people who said to me that they thought the trailers for Couples Retreat didn't look very good. Most of them hoped that maybe the really funny stuff was left out of the trailers because they couldn't show it on TV. Unfortunately, that wasn't true. There just weren't that many funny scenes in the film at all. And the funniest scenes involved Dave's youngest son and a toilet.
My first problem is I think there were too many couples to deal with. They did a good job of making they all different enough that their stories didn't overlap, but because they had to go back and forth between all of them, giving them enough screen time to make each story worthwhile, they shortchanged the ones that could have been funniest. I thought the Jason and Cynthia story was the weakest out of all of them because there didn't seem to be any reason for them to get divorced. Jason was definitely annoying, but Cynthia's personality seemed to be exactly the same up until the 2/3 mark of the film, when she suddenly shouted that she wasn't as perfect as he was. But up until then they seemed made for each other. That being said I had a small crush on Kristen Bell so seeing her in various stages of undress made her role that much better for me.
I think Dave was the best character, if only because he was played by Vince Vaughn. Vaughn has the type of personality where you either love him or hate him. His characters from one movie to another aren't very different so if you like him once, you'll always like him. Here he was the prototypical family guy who loved his wife dearly even if he wasn't sure how to show it. And Ronnie loved him too and put up with his quirks. Their relationship trouble wasn't known until they got to the island but after a small fight they were able to work it out easily enough. They were definitely the most stable of the couples and the easiest to get along with as an audience.
Joey and Lucy were probably the most annoying to me, although Joey had some of the most outrageous scenes. Both acted like horny little children, with Lucy lusting after their yoga coach and Joey lusting after everyone else. Joey wanted nothing more than to act like a teenager and get with every girl he saw, whether real or on a postcard. Lucy's character didn't do very much during the film and mostly played second fiddle to Joey's overbearing personality. But two of the funniest moments involved Joey getting a massage and having one of the resort's attendants walk in on him just before he was about to... rub some lotion on himself. His character wasn't very likeable however so although he got into funny/awkward scenes, there wasn't any reason to cheer him on in getting back together with his wife.
Shane and Trudy had the most potential to be comical because you had an older, overweight Shane who was desperately trying to hang on to his youth, and the youth he was trying to hang on to. I never saw why Trudy would like being with Shane since he couldn't keep up with her in any way, but he did give her a trip to a resort island so that might be why. Obviously we know why Shane liked Trudy. But the May/December romance could have been played up more but was shunted more into the background so that they better known actors got more screentime. By the end of the movie, in a random moment, Shane gets back together with his estranged wife while Trudy is sent packing.
The two funniest scenes were quick shots where Dave's youngest son was in a department store and mistook a model toilet for a real one. The reactions of everyone around for those two moments were priceless. The rest of the movie looked gorgeous - the location was amazing - but never quite connected with laughs. The scenes with the various therapists could have been mined for laughter but none of them worked as well as they should have. The scenes between the couples felt forced - almost as if there were too many famous faces on screen together. And all of them seemed to bow to Vaughn as the lead which meant he had to try even harder. It's not as if Couples Retreat was a bad movie by any means, it just wasn't a very good one.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I was disappointed with Couples Retreat. Considering the cast and the writers, this should have been much funnier than it was. It had some moments, but not enough to make it worthwhile.