If you and your mate like to nap amongst strangers for the price of a $12 ticket, then by all means check into Couples Retreat this weekend. Written by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn and starring some of the decade’s biggest former television stars, (including Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman and Kristin Davis), this film had potential coming out of its ying-yang, but sadly fell flatter than Kristen Bell’s chest.
The beginning starts off somewhat well, in which a quirky group of couples discovers via Power Point presentation that their friends’ marriage is on the fritz. Through graphs, charts, photo montages and a very unnecessary home invasion, the couples are eventually coerced into joining Jason and Cynthia (Batemen and Bell) on the island paradise of Eden for a couples retreat.
But as the scenery in the film gets more beautiful, the characters become more ugly (you try peeking through your hands at hefty Faizon Love’s stark naked behind…shudder). The chemistry between each actor couple is virtually non-existent and therefore not at all believable, so that you become acutely aware that the very marriages you’re supposed to be rooting for are instead the ones you’re praying will fail. Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis play Joey and Lucy, the parents of a college-bound daughter. Sadly, this is the best description of their character traits and backgrounds I can offer, and with the exception of a nauseatingly unrealistic make-out session near the film’s conclusion, the only indicator that the two are even together.
The token black couple was similarly a match made out of thin air while the movie’s casting directors were wasted. Faizon Love and Kali Hawk play Shane and Trudy, a rebound relationship with a middle-aged divorcee and a 20-year old party girl. I know the audience is supposed to feel that these two don’t belong together, but seriously, if I was a man dating a woman half my age and she insisted on calling me Daddy even once, I’d dropkick her off the nearest bridge as soon as humanly possible. Also, there’s really no other way to say it – Hawk was the douchiest actress for the part, complete with an annoying voice that begs to play a supporting role in a Tyler Perry flick.
This was one of the most poorly written films I’ve braved my way through in some time. Obvious callbacks to previous jokes were omitted, and though Couples Retreat is being marketed as a comedy, it’s pretty clear mid-plot that the couples have some serious issues they need to work through, which could cause discomfort for real-life pairs watching them up on screen. The most hilarious moments should have come out of the husband and wife therapy sessions with doctors played by John Michael Higgins (Best in Show) and Ken Jeong (Knocked Up). Did director John Billingsley cut all of the jokes or were they simply not written? It definitely seems like Favreau and Vaughn just wanted to gather some friends together and go to Bora Bora on someone else’s dime. Couldn’t they have just taken a month off, used their own fortunes to fund their little va-cay and spare us the pain?
If you decide not to heed my warnings and make it through the entire hour and 47 minutes of Couples Retreat, you’ll snore, you’ll cry, and you’ll roll your eyes at jokes you know are supposed to be funny but are just too lame to be acknowledged with any sort of vocalization. The best joke in the movie occurs within the first 20 minutes, when a home security system code is revealed. Strangely enough, that password is the best one-word summary of this movie I can provide: asstastic.