More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
1.5

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 3.33%
Pretty Bad: 43.33%
Total Crap53.33%

4 reviews, 6 user ratings


Latest Reviews

I, Tonya by Rob Gonsalves

Wonder Wheel by Peter Sobczynski

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri by Rob Gonsalves

Swindlers, The by Jay Seaver

Oro (Gold) by Jay Seaver

Disaster Artist, The by Peter Sobczynski

Explosion by Jay Seaver

Lucky (2017) by Rob Gonsalves

Breadwinner, The by Jay Seaver

Endless, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed


Couples Retreat
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Peter Sobczynski

"An Imperfect Getaway"
1 stars

“Couples Retreat” marks the directorial debut of Peter Billingsley, best known to most people as little Ralphie from the generally beloved holiday classic “A Christmas Story.” This is ironic because this first effort is so bad that most viewers would probably prefer to have their eyes shot than to try to make it through to the bitter end. I realize that as snippy jokes go, this isn’t the most inspired--it is crashingly obvious, poorly executed and, most importantly, not particularly funny--and I wrestled for a bit over the notion of including it at all. However, despite my misgivings, I decided to use it after all because doing so would help to illustrate the points that I wanted to make about the film--as dreadfully unfunny as that jokes, it contains infinitely more wit and inspiration than this failed farce can even begin to muster up and, unlike the film, it at least knows where to end.

Jason Bateman and Kristin Bell play a pair of uptight Yuppie control freaks who decide to give their shaky marriage one final shot by attending a couples retreat located in a lush island paradise in the South Seas. Unfortunately, they can’t swing the attendance fee by themselves and therefore invite some of their friends--level-headed Everycouple Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman, the perpetually unfaithful Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis, recently divorced Faizon Love and much younger girlfriend Kali Hawk--to come along with them as part of a group deal that will allow the others to have all the fun that they want while they attend the counseling sessions. Alas, it turns out that all of them must participate in the sessions or they will have to leave and so the others decide to make the best of it in order to partake in the sun and fun during their off-hours. Sadly for them, the entire program devised by the leader of the retreat (Jean Reno) is a bunch of nonsense that seems to have been designed solely to provide wacky moments that will look good in the trailer and to cause the various couples to question what they really mean to each other after all and whether any of them should stay together or not.

Those of you who have endured the relentlessly omnipresent trailer for “Couples Retreat” over the last few months will be stunned to discover that as bad as the preview was, it has nothing on the actual film itself and not just because seemingly half the footage from that trailer is nowhere to be seen in the final print. For starters, even though you would think that the world of touchy-feely self-help therapy would be a potential comedic gold mine but that is not the case here--instead of goofing on the Oprahization of contemporary relationships in which the most ordinary flaws are inflated into jumbo-sized crises that need to be overcome at great personal expense by people who don‘t seem to have steady relationships of their own, we get stale gags about hunky yoga instructors sticking their Spandexed hinders in the faces of the guys while the ladies swoon or people becoming wildly aroused during massage sessions. Not that any of that goes anywhere either--in a development that underlines the essential pointlessness of the entire enterprise, a film that by all nature should be a bawdy, R-rated adult-oriented comedy has been released as a PG-13 movie that is too grown-up for children and too childish for grown-ups. What is especially weird about the film is how dated the entire enterprise is--if I didn’t know any better, I would say that the entire thing was a bizarre homage to the kind of self-consciously smutty sex comedies that helped kill the careers of people like George Segal and Elliot Gould in the Seventies.

I would gripe about the screenplay by Vaughn, Favreau & Dana Fox but to judge from the results, it feels as if everyone involved left their scripts at home in order to make room for more suntan lotion and found themselves making the entire thing up more or less as they went along. As a result, all we get are an endless variety of long and unstructured scenes that drift along without ever finding any sort of comedic inspiration--Vaughn in particular is especially annoying as he riffs and scats on this and that for so long and with so little comic payoff that you can practically see his co-stars checking their watches while waiting for him to stop spewing his comedic cubic zirconium all over the place. What is especially distressing is that there are plenty of gifted comedic performers in the cast, with the sore-thumb exception of the blonde hole of comedy that is Malin Akerman (who is a redhead here, which renders even that joke moot), but without any strong material to work with, they can only stand around like a bunch of actors trying to find their ways out of an improv session that cratered early but which inexplicably refuses to end. Speaking of refusing to end, the film ends with so many empty-headed epiphanies that it seems as if there was an explosion at the local epiphany factory, just one of the countless concepts that are far more amusing than anything else on display here.

Oftentimes, when you walk out of an especially awful movie, you find yourself wondering how such a thing could have ever been made in the first place. In the case of “Couples Retreat,” however, it is pretty much obvious right from the start how it came into being--working in his capacity as Hollywood Big shot (he is, after all, the genius who helped give us the likes of “Fred Claus” and “Four Christmases”) Vince Vaughn apparently decided that he wanted a tropical working vacation for himself and his buddies, not to mention free “Guitar Hero” games (the subject of an exceptionally crass extended plug posing as a scene) and the film is essentially a really expensive home movie showing all the fun that they had in the sun while they were done there. The end result, sad to say, is just about as entertaining as watching someone else’s home movies for two solid hours and even if you somehow get roped into such a situation (I specifically maintain very few close friendships in part to avoid such things), you generally aren’t forced to pay $10 for the privilege. There are any number of very funny films in release at the moment--“Zombieland,” “The Invention of Lying,” “The Informant,” “Whip It” and even “A Serious Man”--and all I am going to say is that if you even contemplate seeing “Couples Retreat” before catching up with all of those infinitely superior films, it means that you have either no taste in comedy whatsoever or will cheerfully sit through anything in order to see Kristen Bell in her underwear. If it is the latter, all I can say is that this is why “Maxim” magazine was invented and even there, the caliber of the writing is far superior to anything in this film.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=18492&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/09/09 15:00:00
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

12/24/13 Michelle O crude rude & socially unacceptable--- NOT in a funny STOOGES way. 1 stars
11/01/10 mr.mike It was a 2 hour movie. That's 90 minutes too long. 2 stars
9/15/10 Cat Unfunny and stupid. Man, did I hate Jason Bateman's character. 1 stars
5/06/10 Corky Love Favreau and Vaughn, but this just didn't click... 3 stars
10/13/09 PAUL SHORTT A LOUD, CRUDE, DREARY MISFIRE 1 stars
10/11/09 Jack Emory a complete waste of time, talent and money 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  09-Oct-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 09-Feb-2010

UK
  N/A

Australia
  09-Oct-2009
  DVD: 09-Feb-2010




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
eFilmCritic.com: Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast