Monday, October 26, 2009

Couples Retreat (**1/2)

Couples Retreat. 107 mins. PG-13. Directed by Peter Billingsley. Written by Jon Favreau, and Vince Vaughn & Dana Fox. Starring Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman, Kristin Bell, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love, and Jean Reno.

By all accounts, Couples Retreat should have been a much better movie than it actually is. Co-written by longtime friends and co-stars Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, and directed by pal Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A Christmas Story), the movie has a great cast, an exotic location, and a promising comedic set-up. Vaughn and Malin Akerman (who's actually never been better - seriously) play the most stable couple in the movie, who decide to head to Bora Bora and accompany their best friends, a type-A, fertility challenged pair played by the always dependable Jason Bateman and Kristin Bell, as they try to mend their broken relationship and stave off divorce. Also along for the ride are an adulterous pair of high school sweethearts (Kristin Davis and Jon Favreau) as well as a recently divorced guy dating a girl half his age (Faizon Love). What promises to be fun in the sun soon turns into couples therapy and yoga sessions - all played to none-too-subtle effect. For a while there (a good portion actually), Couples Retreat coasts along on the charm of its cast and a handful of amusing gags. It doesn't hurt to have beautiful locations and Kristin Bell in a bikini for most of the movie. But then that last third hits, and everything falls apart. There's a cheesy Guitar Hero battle staged like an Old West confrontation, an unfortunately timed rain storm, and the ridiculous happy endings given to each couple. The movie would have been much more effective if it had kept together those couples who should stay together, and broken up those that had no business being together (ahem, Favreau and Davis, ahem). The big climax strikes one false note after another, and will have you rolling your eyes. Still, the cast holds this slipshod affair together. For the most part. Kind of. Not really.

- John


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