Couples Retreat (2009)


You Definitely Don’t Pull a Hypothetical Gun on Your Therapist

I’ve had today’s movie sitting on my desk for a little while now, ever since it arrived from Netflix.  When it came out in theaters, I knew that I liked all the people that were in the movie, but found that I never had any interest in watching it.  The thing that probably drew me in finally was the fact that there were a lot of really good looking women in bikinis throughout this movie, and also a pretty solid potential for comedy.  This movie is Couples Retreat, written by Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, and Dana Fox, directed by Peter Billingsley, and starring Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith, Jean Reno, Peter Serafinowicz, Carlos Ponce, Temuera Morrison, John Michael Higgins, Ken Jeong, Amy Hill, and Karen Shenaz David.  I had no idea that a person from both Scorpion King 2 and Scorpion King 3 were in this movie when I started watching it.  That’s just happy coincidence.

Jason (Jason Bateman) and his wife Cynthia (Kristen Bell) are having marriage troubles, so they decide that they should go to a resort to work on them.  But they’re also having financial troubles, so they need their friends to go with them in order to get a package discount.  Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman), Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis), and Shane (Faizon Love) and Trudy (Kali Hawk) all begrudgingly agree to accompany them.  Dave and Ronnie have a stable marriage with kids, so they don’t believe they need a couples retreat.  Joey and Lucy’s relationship is on the rocks, but they prefer to just cheat on each other a lot instead of working it out.  Shane and Trudy have only just started dating.  But they all go anyways, thinking that Jason and Cynthia will go through the counseling while they can just enjoy their vacation.  When they arrive at Eden, the resort host Sctanley (Peter Serafinowicz) informs them that they must all go through the counseling or they must all leave the resort.  The group must now endure the resort owner, Marcel (Jean Reno), and his unorthodox methods, the amorous Yoga instructor Salvador (Carlos Ponce), and the temptations of the sister island, Eden East, and their wild singles parties.  But they’ll probably all end up better in the end.

Some of the expectations that I had going into this movie were let down.  I knew there would be good looking ladies in bikinis, and the movie delivers on that exquisitely.  There is scarcely a woman in this movie that is not ridiculously good looking and usually wearing a bikini.  The other expectation I had of the movie (given the cast) was that it would be really funny.  It wasn’t.  It had it’s moments, to be sure, but I wanted a lot more laughter than I got.  The introduction to Salvador is a super awkward and sometimes funny scene, as almost every Yoga pose he teaches involves laying on a member of the cast in a sexual manner, whether it’s the girls or the boys.  But there were a couple of funny moments.  The rest of the time it was roughly what you come to expect of a Vince Vaughn movie.  It just seems like the writers just put down a rough outline of what was going to happen and just went to those locations and talked nonstop until they felt they had enough comedy to fill a movie.  A lot of the cast inspires confidence that this will be a good philosophy, but the random things they were saying only got smirks out of me, with the occasional funny one.  This movie also does something that too many comedies feel like they have to do: try to have a meaning.  Obviously it’s all about couples retreats and stuff like that, but don’t lay this message on us about marriage.  It gets a little too heavy handed and sappy for my taste.  This movie had potential to be a good, ridiculous comedy.  I understand that the status quo is to have a little bit of a message behind the movie, but if you lay it on too thick it just bogs down the funniness.  They also seem to have reached a point at the end of the movie where they furiously try to tie up all the loose ends of the movie about 5 minutes before it ends, all within a 10 minute span.  The relationship problems were mostly just hinted at up until that point, then they all instantly reach a boiling point, but then fix it almost immediately.  Another sign that the story of the movie was only vaguely touched upon.  And what was with all the Guitar Hero talk in this movie?  I like Guitar Hero just fine, and I also understand the purpose of SOME product placement in a movie, but they talk about this thing all the time.  Vaughn’s job is to sell the game and, coincidentally, it becomes a strange and unnecessary plot point near the end of the movie.  The thing that the movie does fantastically is the look.  And not just the smoking hot women in bikinis … and I’m sure there are men that ladies would like to look at.  I mean the settings.  It’s probably pretty easy to make a beautiful looking movie in a tropical island setting, but every bit of this movie is colorful and vibrant once they reach the island.  So, if nothing else, you’ll enjoy looking at it.  A great movie on mute, perhaps.

I perhaps went into this movie expecting too much, but it was mainly based on the cast.  I like Vince Vaughn in a lot of his movies, but he does tend to play the same exact character in almost all of them.  Sometimes they work, and sometimes they’re just annoying.  In this movie, I had no problems with him, but he never really did anything funny either.  Just a couple of sparse moments.  The same thing could be said for Jason Bateman too.  He usually plays a completely different kind of character from Vaughn, but it’s usually a pretty neurotic guy.  He’s that here too.  And also has a few moments that were funny.  The biggest problem I had with these couples was with Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis.  I don’t know if I missed some explanation in the beginning of this movie, but I never had any idea how these two were still a couple.  They seemed to mainly just resent and avoid each other, and both of them just kept trying to fuck anybody but their spouse.  Then, at the very end of the movie, they fall in love with each other again because he invites her to Applebees.  …Alright.  I guess that’s a thing.  The only thing I can really say about Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, and Kali Hawk was that they are gorgeous.  Kristen Bell has a decent bit of acting around the end of the movie.  It took me a little bit to figure out where I knew Peter Serafinowicz from, but when I realized he was in Shaun of the Dead, I got really excited.  His character, Sctanley, probably had the largest amount of funny moments, but he wasn’t around enough to fix the movie.  I also felt like John Michael Higgins and Ken Jeong – two more people I generally expect a great deal of funny from – were greatly underused.  And remember when I reviewed all the Scorpion King movies?  Karen Shenaz David (from Scorpion King 2) and Temuera Morrison (from Scorpion King 3) were in this one too.  What a strange coincidence.  But they also had very minor parts here, so there’s nothing more to say.

I think it is probably a dangerous thing to throw a large amount of big names into a mediocre comedy.  We’ll just go in expecting too much.  This movie has it’s charms, but it should have been much funnier with the cast that it includes.  I wouldn’t think anyone would actually hate this movie, though.  The movie is a gorgeous thing to behold because of it’s tropical setting, vibrant colors, and – last but not least – gorgeous ladies in bikinis.  You just won’t laugh that much.  Couples Retreat gets “You got a pose called Yoga guy gets his ass kicked?” out of “Holy shit!  It’s like a screensaver!”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

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