Couples Retreat

  • Reviewed by: Dr Adam Jahnke
  • Review Date: Mar 01, 2010
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Peter Billingsley

Release Date(s)

2009 (February 9, 2010)

Studio(s)

Universal

Review

Here’s a tip from Dr. Jahnke.  When a movie comes out featuring a large ensemble cast frolicking in one of the most beautiful locations on the planet, avoid it.  It doesn’t matter how talented the actors are or how much you enjoyed their previous work.  This one will stink like month-old eggs dropped down an outhouse.  These people signed on because they wanted to get paid and take a vacation simultaneously.  They are going to be having a much better time than you will.  If you don’t believe me, program a day of watching Club Paradise, Ocean’s Twelve and Couples Retreat back to back.  If you haven’t killed yourself at the end of the day, you can write me a note saying you now understand what I’m talking about.

Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell play a couple whose marriage is in trouble.  They want to go to Eden, a couples therapy resort, to try and patch things up.  But they can only afford to go on a group rate, so they coerce their friends into joining them.  Before you can say “Margaritaville”, everybody’s relationship has hit the skids.  Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis contemplate cheating on each other.  Recently divorced Faizon Love has a hard time keeping up with much younger girlfriend Kali Hawk.  Even ideal couple Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman worry that they’re in a rut.

As written by Vaughn, Favreau and Dana Fox, Couples Retreat is a dull, laugh-free experience that takes an annoyingly simplistic view of marriage.  There’s no question that these folks are meant to be with each other (except for Faizon Love, of course, who’s really supposed to be with his ex-wife).  They just need to go on a journey to figure that out.  The journey includes lame jabs at hippy-dippy therapy, jokes that assume that the sight of a guy in a Speedo is hilarious, and a climactic Guitar Hero duel.  Not lame enough for you yet?  Try this on for size.  The Guitar Hero scene is set to a Billy Squier song.  The entire cast is capable of good work but here, they’re reduced to a bunch of shrill, whiny, completely unlikable brats.  Saddest of all, the island is run by none other than Jean Reno.  Reno has managed to escape everything from Godzilla to The Pink Panther 2 with his dignity more or less intact but after this, he should stop answering calls from American production companies altogether.

In the closest thing the movie has to an amusing joke, Favreau remarks that the island paradise “looks like a screen-saver” and that comparison is even more apt on Blu-ray.  The disc looks gorgeous and sounds just fine, although it’s hard to judge audio quality when the audio consists entirely of unpleasant bickering and Billy Squier music.  There’s no shortage of extra material, either.  There’s an alternate ending, deleted and extended scenes, all of which feature optional commentary by Vaughn and Peter Billingsley.  Vaughn and Billingsley also contribute to a video commentary accessible through Universal’s U-Control feature.  You also get a gag reel, deleted improv from the therapy scenes, a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes and, of course, a digital copy.  The disc also has all the latest cutting edge Blu-ray features, including BD-Live and something called Social Blu, which apparently allows you to go directly to Facebook or Twitter from your Blu-ray player and immediately tell your friends what a crappy movie this was.

Often when a comedy doesn’t work, it’s because the people involved are trying too hard to get you to laugh.  They get louder, faster, and more frantic in the vain hope that it’ll sell the gag.  Couples Retreat suffers from the opposite problem.  These guys aren’t trying at all.  They probably had a great time making this and for them, this Blu-ray will make a lovely souvenir of their holiday.  But their fun does not translate to a good time for the home viewer.

- Dr. Adam Jahnke

 

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