Entertainment » Movies

Couples Retreat

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday Oct 9, 2009
Justin Bateman, Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau in "Couples Retreat"
Justin Bateman, Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau in "Couples Retreat"  

Kinda stupid, kinda funny. It's the ultimate fall film.

Ah, the autumn. The weather cools across much of the country, the leaves turn colors, and we run around pursuing outdoor enjoyment and baking apple pies. Perhaps that's because the seasons have turned and we feel energized by the cooler air (except y'all in Texas, of course - it's always hot in Texas). Or perhaps it's because the last thing we want to do is run to the Cineplexes to watch the unfortunate crop of films that bridge the gap between summer and the holiday season. I wish I could say that "Couples Retreat" bucks the trend; alas, it doesn't. It's moderately funny, and quite a bit stupid; which might be OK for fans of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. For the rest of us, it's largely more entertaining to watch leaves fall.

The film puts its best foot forward: Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) have lost their way as a couple, and in an attempt to get their best friends to split the fare on a trip to a tropical couples spa, pitch them on a vacation via powerpoint. It's hysterical. And it's the high point of the film. The pitch (of course) succeeds, and so Dave (Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman), Joey (Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) and Shane (Faizon Love) and Trudy (Kali Hawk) end up tagging along. When they arrive, the "vacation" turns into an overlong therapy session overseen by eclectic zen master Monsieur Marcel (Jean Reno) and dour concierge Sctanley (Peter Serafinowicz). And despite their lack of interest in pursuing couples therapy, the three add-on pairs are forced to delve into their own relationships.

From a slapstick point of view, "Couples Therapy" is a winner; it keeps the giggles moving with a combination of crass humor and witty, Seinfeld-esque dialogue. And the cast largely manages to deliver the punches well - particularly Favreau, Vaughn and Serafinowicz. The less seasoned players don't always quite manage to coax maximum mileage out of the script's cracks, and even Reno - who is an experienced comic - isn't quite on his game; yet in general, the film will tickle most audiences.

Where it fails is in its attempt to blend comedy with feel-good romance. The plot is ridiculous: in an open spa setting, to coerce couples into therapy is a wildly preposterous premise, and there's a limit to what friendships can bear. And once it becomes necessary to stir in emotional subplots, most of the spontaneity bleeds from the picture. Most offensive is the abruptness of the character evolutions, particularly with regard to the relationship between Joey and Lucy; they spend most of the picture trying to have sex with other people, and then in the third act, thanks to the imminent resolution of the plot, curiously find themselves in love again. The other couples have denouements no less sudden. All of which sends the film's audience out of the theatre with a shrug of their shoulders, rather than a smile on their faces.

Couples Retreat


Runtime :: 114 mins
Release Date :: Oct 09, 2009
Language :: English
Country :: United States

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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