Thursday, November 19, 2009

Couples Retreat

Tonight I saw Couples Retreat, starring (and written by) Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau.

The film begins by introducing us to four couples: one that appears very average, another that seems detached, one that's clearly just about the sex, and the last who are very obviously having problems.

The couple who are struggling to reproduce (played by Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell) are in the process of deciding whether or not their marriage is worth saving when they find a special resort called "Eden," which claims to help folks find their way back to one another. The trouble is, the place is very expensive, and to be able to afford the visit, they need to talk three other couples into going with them. This happens, almost too easily, and before we know it we're transported to a Bora Bora-like paradise.

Of course, the other three couples feel as if they don't need to follow the "program" of therapy and want to spend the time there as if on vacation—but that wasn't the deal. To enjoy the benefits of "Eden" they must complete the planned activities. So, they do. Sort of.

And here's where the movie turns from borderline charming to undeniably predictable: the couple who thought they were happy turns out to have problems that surface during therapy; the couple who are sincerely trying to work out their issues are so focused on the plan, they've forgotten how to communicate with one another. And so forth.

The somewhat believable premise is then compromised by a series of ridiculous situations (a husband who requests a female massage therapist and then gets aroused when she touches him; a sexually suggestive yoga instructor). These scenes feel like they would be more at home on a network sitcom than in a feature film, and the laughs are few and far between.

It's almost as if Vaughn and Favreau wanted to take a snapshot of their lives at this age (as they successfully did years ago with Swingers) and found that reality as a 30 or 40-something isn't as fun as reality as a 20-something.

Perhaps the film would've been better if they'd just captured the heart they were going for and channeled it into a drama instead. Or even a dramedy.

This film felt like the writers were trying too hard to make light of poor choices that many real people make in life. And it just wasn't that funny.


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