Saturday, October 24, 2009

Couples Retreat (2009)

Starring Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, et al
Rated PG-13, 113 minutes

"Couples Retreat" marks one of the weirdest ways I've been inspired to go to the movies. Jonesing for more peanut buttery goodness, I went on a morning grocery run to grab two boxes of Reese's Puffs for me and my girlfriend. The package advertised a free movie ticket with the purchase of any two specially marked boxes. And the local theater was a participating chain! We're goin' to the show!

And this was the choice. Jason & Cynthia (Bateman & Bell) are a couple whose marriage is failing. Being the epitome of fun, they use a PowerPoint presentation to convince other couples they're friends with to go to a couples resort. Therapy's optional, there's jet-skis and drinks and beaches and fun.

Once there, the vacationers find themselves strong-armed into the "couples skill-building." Shane (Love) goes through the motions with his 20-year-old girlfriend, who's there for the island party. Happy couple Dave & Ronnie (Vaughn & Akerman) are told
by their therapist that they're practically strangers. And Joey (Favreau) and his wife implode, each trying to find their own release on the singles side of the resort.

Overall, this was a good night out. The movie was less of a complete narrative, and more of a buffet of comic scenarios, tied together by the idea of couples therapy. The therapists include a number of familiar character actor faces, including Ken Jeong ("Knocked Up," "The Hangover") and John Michael Higgins ("The Late Shift"). In fact, familiar faces were a big part of this one succeeding, as Vince Vaughn could be Vince Vaughn without having some big setup, just as Jon Favreau could be Jon Favreau, and all the wives could look good.

The movie was practically saying "new wheel, same as the old wheel - but new." And that was good enough for me, given the cast. And thankfully, once the couples left for the island, the kids stayed home for good, without any callback scenes. We're already playing formula, we don't need the kids being wacky at home just to pad the runtime.


"Couples Retreat" is an accessible comedy that satisfied me and my cereal-box-obtained moviegoing dollar.

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