Picture the scene, four friendly American couples are at a house party together, and one of them admits that their marriage is in trouble, posing a possible solution which the others can aide them with.
No! It's not a gang-bang. More's the pity. Instead, this 'idea' involves them all attending a luxurious island resort named "Eden”, one which helps husbands and wives with their relationship problems.
OK, I have to admit, the remaining three couples do not jump to this idea straight away. Not really, anyway. But that does not necessarily mean that they don't all go along with this plan, right?
Oh! One minute. I almost forgot to tell you who these guys and girls are. Firstly there's David and Ronnie (Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman) – he is a games dealer, and she is a stay-at-home mum. Then there is Joey and Lucy (John Favereau and Kristen Davis) – who are childhood sweethearts with a teenage daughter. Next there is Shane and Trudy (Faizon Love and Kali Hawk) – he has recently been separated from his wife, and she is only twenty. Plus finally there is Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman and Kristin Bell) – whom are the facetious couple with the imposing problem. They can't have a child.
Don't you just find them a nice bunch of people? Like 'Eden' in fact. Because once everyone arrives at this sunny lo-cal, each and every single one of them gaze in wonderment at the plush surroundings on offer. However, the resort host, Sctanley (Peter Serafinowicz), explains that the 'package' they have all signed up for (called 'Pelican'), is a controlled pursuit, and restricts them due to the resorts owner wishes, Marcel's (Jean Reno).
Of course, apart from Jason and Cynthia who came for the therapy, the rest of them just presumed that they could all do whatever they wanted on this island. But no. They were wrong. Somewhat reluctantly they're pressured to take part in the following activities. Nature – therapy sessions – bike riding – aquatic activities – massages – and yoga. Moreover, these self-same 'holistic pursuits' rub's up some of these 'happy campers' the wrong way. Some of them fight. Some of them argue. And some of them split.
Ouch! Which is most probably why what next transpires resolves itself on a neighboring partying island. As Guitar Hero is a blast - views do not last - issues are aired - and at the end of the day friends really cared.
In many ways 'Couples Retreat' is one of those films which harks back to the eighties era of 'resort based' comedies. I'm sure you know the type of thing. A movie where X number of characters travel to place Y for Z period of time, just so person A and person B can accomplish task C. Robin Williams did a such a thing in the flick, 'Club Paradise'. Whereas Peter O'Tool did so in 'High Spirits'. However, unlike Peter and Robins efforts with these movie, this all-star cast has been given a duff script by committee.
Yes. I am sorry to say that this 'couples comedy' has too much 'couple' in it and not enough 'comedy'. Ying and yang, I know. On the one hand the actresses are very attractive. The actors have nice stubble. And their is a humanistic message behind this movie too. On the other hand though, the plot is paper thin. The through-line is formulaic. And the humanistic message in question is overpowered by the overall superficiality of it all.
Listen, I do not want to overly critical about this comedy. It isn't that bad. And genuinely, here and there, there are quite a few scenes in this flick that could be defined as humorous. But only if you have had your brains removed by a demented monkey on cocaine.
Do you know what? I think that it would be best if I'd refreshed my mind for a bit, just so I can be more subjective about this film. Let's have some filmic-facts, huh? (1) Numerous sexual quotes were omitted from the trailer of this picture. (2) Vince Vaughn's father, Vernon, plays his father in this flick. (3) The model whose image that John Favreau's character was 'pleasuring' himself too, Irina Krupnik, sued Universal for ten million dollars for abasing her name. A Judge ruled against her claim. (4) Malin Akerman is the lead singer of a rock band named called "The Petal Stones". (5) Kristin Davis childhood hero was Gloria Steinem. (6) Jon Favreau wrote the script for 'Swingers' using a piece of software given to him by his Dad. (7) Faizon Love started stand-up comedy at fifteen. (8) Jason Bateman began acting at age 10, when he followed a friend of his to an audition, and got a role in an educational film. (9) Vince Vaughn plays with his willy a lot. (10) In the United Kingdom, the black actors, Faizon Love and Kali Hawk, were removed from the films poster. This controversial stance was justified by Universal, due to the fact that these actors are not that well known in the UK. (11) Kristen Bell is of both Irish and Polish descent.
OK, so now that all of this is out of my system, am I now feeling a bit better with my stance on 'Couples Retreat'?
No. Not really.
You see, what I am so conflicted about, is that all the actors involved all a really good job in conveying the parts they play – and I do mean ‘parts’. But I found the manner in which the film was put together, and how the story then progressed, was both fractured and predicable in the execution.
For example, you knew from the start of the film that 'the gang' were all eventually going to go on this ‘retreat’. In addition to this, the homely ending was on the cards too. So what the f*ck was all that hullabaloo about before hand? It is an irritating ploy when a film does not even attempt to convey this 'deliberate delay' in a supple manner. It's as though no thought or effort was put into making this 'delay' in a alternate way. Also, the jagged quality that this movie was edited together, does act in detriment to the scenes, making them flimflam all over the shop, like a fish drowning in air.
It's a shame really. I would have loved to have enjoyed this film more than I did. All 'the girls' have proven themselves in the past as being very versatile actresses despite being 'wank-able' eye-candy. All 'the boys' have that roguish Americana vibe that is one half every-man and one half best-bud. All the supporting players have the right amount of gravitas to support and enhance at the same time. It's just that the story, the pretext, the editing, and the rest of it, were all just naff.
Agreed Vince and John?
Sod you then. The interviews better than the film.
THE RATING: C+