Better Than Anticipated
- Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) announce to their friends Dave (Vince Vaughan) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman), Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis), and Shane (Faizon Love) that they are thinking about getting a divorce. But before officially going through with the divorce, Jason & Cynthia want to take one last stab at making their marriage work by visiting an island retreat called Eden. At Eden, couples can experience the finest in dining, scenery, and water sports (no, not that kind of water sport) while also taking part in couple's therapy. Jason and Cynthia cannot go alone because they can only afford the group rate if all of their friends come along. No one is particularly thrilled with the idea, but decide to go and not take part in the couple's therapy portion of the retreat. Upon arrival on Eden, it becomes clear that the couple's therapy is in fact not optional and everyone has to take part in the couple's therapy whether they like it or not. Learning a lot about themselves and their marriages, mostly hilarity ensues.
Couples Retreat ended up being better than it looked in trailer form. Directed by Peter Billingsley (the child star of A Christmas Story (1983)), Couples Retreat no doubt has its fair share of flaws. Frankly, the jokes involving nearly-naked dudes get old before they get going and the ending is a complete mess. However, much of the low-brow humor ends up on the funny side and the general theme of the movie actually promotes working through marital difficulties over simply calling it quits (a rarity in Hollywood).
Writers and stars of the film, Vince Vaughan and Jon Favreau, end up swapping their roles from Swingers (1996): in Couples Retreat, Favreau is the irresponsible, selfish, idiot and Vaughan is the level-headed, put-together, guy with the morals. Who would have thought? Vaughan is clearly better suited for being the common-sense good guy, as opposed to his usual over-aged frat boy character he uses for most of his films, actually being funny and giving a decent performance here in Couples Retreat. Favreau, Bateman, Ackerman, and Bell are all very entertaining as well - but Love is not particularly funny (and his character gets a very rushed development) and Davis is basically just doing her "Sex And The City" character here in Couples Retreat.
Surprisingly amidst the low-brow humor and spotty cast, Couples Retreat ends up promoting some good morals and being a mostly entertaining 113 minutes of film.
CBC Rating: 6/10