Couples Retreat
I know what the audience could use the bucket for …

Theatrical Release Date: 10/09/2009
Director: Peter Billingsley
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristen Davis, Kali Hawk, Jean Reno

I’m going to start the review with just about the only positive comment I can make regarding “Couples Retreat”: making it through the entire film with your significant other should count as a bonding experience that you can look back on to help you through tough times – like losing one’s job, natural disasters or a death in the family.

Simply put, writers Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn (with director Peter Billingsley’s “help”) have managed to craft a film more on the level of “Made” than “Swingers” and should have just gotten the cast together for a real vacation, paid for it with their multi-million dollar bank accounts on their own dimes rather than use film finances and left the viewing public alone.

The premise is a simple one. Jason Bateman and Kristin Bell’s marriage is on the rocks. They discover an island paradise masquerading as world-famous couples therapy and wrangle their best friends (see crazy cast listing above) into coming. The four couples then must discover what is and what isn’t working in each relationship so that in the end, the warm and fuzzy feeling comes from both the sappy ending and the alcohol you should have been drinking to justify purchasing a ticket to see the film in the first place.

Along the way, hijinks are to ensue but really this plays out much more like an examination of problems with communication in relationships than a full blown comedy. All but a few of the funny bits are in the trailer so I can save you 111 minutes of your life-span right there. And yes, this film clocks in just under 2 hours so don’t think you’re going to pop into the theater for a quickie on this one.

Each of the actors does what it appears is required of them from the script but the bottom line is that audiences are looking for this to be a comedy. You don’t assemble a cast loaded with this many comedians only to then ask everyone to get in touch with their emotions.

Now, I do admit that having never been married (ladies count your blessings), I’m sure there’s a lot going on here that I couldn’t identify with and that exacerbates my issues with the film. So maybe those of you in serious relationships/civil unions/common law and/or full marriages might find another angle to possibly enjoy the film. However, all I could really connect my feelings to on this was “The Break-Up“, another dramatic suck-hole pretending to be a comedy.

If they make a sequel, I can already give them a possible title: “Audience Retreat”. It’s been a little while since I had wanted to leave a theater so badly (even Jean Reno’s inclusion didn’t give me much solace). I’m going to temporarily award “Couples Retreat” a 1 out of 5. Plans are in the works to go to a modified ratings system utilizing half points … and only then can I knock this down another half peg. Whatever you’re planning to do this weekend, save yourself the time, trouble and money of watching this film. Comedies are supposed to be funny, sadly Favreau and Vaughn seemed to have forgotten that fact here.