Couples Retreat Review

Thanks for checking out our Couples Retreat review.

On the surface, Couples Retreat looks like just another cheap, throw away, romantic comedy that at best could be mildly entertaining, and at worst a complete waste of time. However, the film sports a fantastic cast (with the likes of Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell and a few others) and was written by Favreau and Vaughn, who have a pretty decent track record together. Add on top of that the fact that the trailers have looked pretty solid, and I found myself really looking forward to it.

Did it live up to my mildly heightened expectations? No, it didn’t, but at the same time it wasn’t a complete waste either.

THE GENERAL IDEA

The basic synopsis for Couples Retreat reads something like this: A comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort’s therapy sessions is not optional.

THE GOOD

Vince Vaughn is pretty much a one character actor these days. Oh he may have started out dramatic, but he’s made a fortune in comedy, and made it with the exact same character over and over and over again. However, unlike Michael Cera, this character doesn’t seem to get old (at least it hasn’t really yet). It’s a more charismatic character with more personality and is, well… funny. When Vince Vaughn is “on”, he has some of the best comedic timing in the business which means whenever his character opens his mouth, you’ve got to be prepared to laugh, and in Couples Retreat, Vaughn is on.

This is a dialog driven movie and for the most part the dialog works really well (for a comedy at any rate). Many comedies rely on shtick, gags and physical comedy to get their laughs (and there is nothing at all wrong with that when it works), but I found that the best moments of this movie were with the straight forward dialog between the characters.

This part may sound redundant since the movie takes place in the tropical paradise… but the movie really was very pretty to look at. The cinematography in the film took full advantage of the surroundings and really helped us “fell” the place the way the characters did.

It’s just a funny film most of the time.

Carlos Ponce, who plays Salvadore the Yoga instructor is brilliant. I loved this character. He was this movie’s McLovin (a side character who ends up stealing the show every time he’s on the screen). I can honestly say I would go see a “Salvatore” movie.

THE BAD

I find these sorts of movies are best when they know exactly what they are, and stay within those limits. For example, when you look at Wedding Crashers, the film quickly identifies itself as a mid-shallow comedy with minor life lessons encompassing a comedy based on a pretty unrealistic set of circumstances. The movie knows that’s what it is, and never moves outside of that and firmly establishes its identity. When I comedy establishes it’s identity and operates within it, it has a greater chance of success. However, Couples Retreat never establishes and identity, because you quickly get the feeling that the movie THINKS it’s smarter and deeper than it really is. This creates several moments in the film when it wants to be taken seriously, but you as an audience member just can’t. At times the movie tries to make deeper and more insightfully observations about real marriage and relationship problems, but they just come off as silly, especially when they’ve already used blatant slapstick comedy tools.

The movie veers way too much into the pure “silly” at times. Once again, if it had established its identity as that right off the bat, then it could have worked, but it doesn’t. For example, there is a completely ludicrous “Guitar Hero” battle scene about 2/3 of the way through that felt so out of place it just made me feel embarrassed for everyone involved in it.

Like many comedies, Couples Retreat all too quickly and all too conveniently wraps up everyone’s problems into a big happy ending. Some deep and potentially complex life issues suddenly rectified by a 45 second epiphany conversation 5 minutes before the end of the movie. It felt cheap. It felt forced, and it felt like the filmmakers just had no idea what else to do with it.

Whereas the first 2/3’s of the film moved along pretty well and was quite funny (if not all that smart), the last act grinds to a complete and painful stall.

OVERALL

Couples Retreat, at its heart, is a funny movie with a pretty solid premies that shoots itself in the foot repeatedly by not developing an identity for itself, acting like it’s smarter than it is one minute, and the nose diving into unfunny nonsense slapstick comedy the next minute. A movie that starts pretty strong but leaves you feeling like the filmmakers didn’t have a clear vision for where they wanted the film to go, and thus the movie stalls in the third act. Still, there were enough laughs and smiles in the film that I don’t regret taking the time out to see it, and so overall I give Couples Retreat a 5 out of 10.

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18 thoughts on “Couples Retreat Review

  1. This movie was so bad it doesn’t even deserve a star. I’m a Vince Vaughn fan and I loved most of the movies he’s been in; but this is pure trash. He should stay away from writing completely.

  2. I was looking forward to a really funny movie and then when i started watching it it was like, what the hell is this? It didn’t even seem like a comedy most of the way through. it was so bad in parts i thought it was a joke. and they had funny talented people in it, too. writing was just crap.

  3. Whoever this reviewer is…is probably on the payroll…..theyre trying to dress up this tragedy of a movie…shame on you!!!…This movie is a dumpster fire…..and comparing the yoga instructor to mclovin is deplorable…..this movie is upsetting but reading a good review for this movie is just kick me in the nuts angering

  4. There were a good few funny bits in this movie, as you can expect from vince vaughn but the camera work was shoddy! the microphone was in the picture practically the whole way through the film! i cannot believe it.!The story line is not all that great either but I bet it was great thing to film on that island VERY BEAUTIFUL!

  5. I think one important point to identify is is not just that this film didn’t establish what it was trying to be, but instead, didn’t succeed becasue it tried to be something that it was not…which was a Judd Apatow film.

    More couples therapy sessions could have been used (to take advantage of the cameos) and less Eden West/Trudy plot would have been an improvement.

    John nailed the flaws but I’ve got some other points in case anyone’s interested:
    http://goseetalk.com/2009/10/12/g-s-t-review-couples-retreat/

  6. 5/10? I thought it was about a 7 (unless you go halfies, then a solid 6.5). Not sure what you can really expect from an American movie, John, since they really go crank out generic flicks for the (dare I say it) less intelligent movie crowd. With most of what comes out of Hollywood, you really do have to suspend belief and logic, since everything will ALWAYS work out in the end (OK… 99% of the time) and, like you mention, conveniently wrapped up in the last 5 min.

    My biggest pet-peeves were really limited to the ending, but more so with VV’s character. He did a mostly good job, but I found myself thinking that he’s become the Al Pacino of comedy, where he does a great job through the movie then has to have his little “speech” moment.

    Still, I enjoyed it, and am glad to have spent my money on it.

    1. Hi best movie was Old School

      I love it when the guys getting married, and his wife is walking up, and Vince covers a cough with:

      “Dont do it! COUGH” I almost peed my pants lol

      “Youre getting married? well, say goodbye to all the pussy in the world”

      And his son’s earmuffs xD

  7. The movie was bad

    And that black couple made me squrim…oh my goodness. If you thought the TWINS in Transformers 2 were bad look at this. No offense but white writers don’t write the best black characters MOST of the time. Not ALL of the time but MOST.

    The chemistry sucked…and isn’t Kristen Bell (i.e. VERONICA MARS) to young to be ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’S wife.

    Also the humor was hit or miss, often MISS.

    And like my rabbling it went on to long and some of the motivations for the character’s actions were complete bull. The whole debacle btwn Vaughn and his wife was over some minor bullcrap that isn’t even worth mentioning.

    THE ONLY FUNNY PART ABOUT THIS MOVIE WAS THE LITTLE KID POOPING IN THE FAKE TOILET!!!!

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