Movie Review: Couples Retreat  (2/5 stars)
Director: Peter Billingsley
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jean Reno, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis
The second film from director Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from “A Christmas Story”), “Couples Retreat” deals with four pairs of friends who reluctantly travel to a resort designed for helping troubled couples. The film stars an ensemble cast which includes Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Jean Reno and Ken Jeong (“Knocked Up,” “The Hangover”). Unfortunately, despite a few amusing moments, even the star studded comedic cast couldn’t save what eventually developed into another predictable failure.
In denial and believing their problems are simply petty feuds, three of the couples seem happy with where their relationships are headed. They receive a wake up call when their friends Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) reveal that they are contemplating a divorce after frustrations with failed pregnancies, and what they believe to be their only chance comes in the form of the Eden Resort in Bora Bora. Upon analyzing their own misfortunes, the rest of the group decides to join in, initially expecting the resort to serve as an excuse to take a vacation in paradise.
Eden is managed by martial artist and love expert Monsieur Marcel, portrayed by the much under appreciated French film legend Jean Reno (“The Professional,” “Ronin”).
When thinking about both the premise and its notable faces, the story could have easily been translated onto the screen in a humorous and creative manner.
The movie opened at No. 1 at the box office this weekend, and is sure to make a reasonable profit in weeks to come, mainly because of word of mouth between people in search of easy laughs and cheesy comedies. None of the characters are effectively developed, and most of the actors seem to be playing themselves.
The story was written by Dana Fox, a screenwriter with a body of work that contains other generic comedies like “What Happens in Vegas” and “The Wedding Date.” However both Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau also surprisingly contributed to the foreseeable plot, whose other writing collaborations include amusing scripts like the cult-classic “Swingers” and box office hit “The Break-Up.”
While it’s easy to spot what the filmmakers intended to be the movie’s high points in terms of comedy and suspense (irritating shark attack scene), the only aspect that may make it worth watching is Vince Vaughn’s signature dark humor and sarcasm. To my own dismay the film turned out to be exactly what I expected, a cheap comedy that hoped to rely on an impressive cast rather than an adequate script.