Couples Retreat (2009) - Review

by - May 06, 2019

Synopsis: A comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort's therapy sessions is not optional.

It May Be Paradise, But It's No Vacation.

Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) are having difficulty conceiving. The stress has put a strain on their marriage and in a last ditch effort to avoid divorce, they decide to travel to a tropical retreat designed to help married couples work through their problems. The problem is, they can't afford it on their own, so they talk their friends into joining them to cut the cost. The other couples agree, clearly looking forward to a beach vacation with spas, jet skis, and delicious food. Unfortunately, when they arrive they learn that the marriage/couples therapy is mandatory, or they'll be forced to leave the island. Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) are high school sweethearts but fight constantly and plan to divorce when their teenage daughter goes off to college. Shane (Faizon Love) is recently divorced and dating a much younger woman named Trudy (Kali Hawk). Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman) are happily married with kids and in the midst of a home renovation but have issues of their own that they're actively avoiding.

I think Vaughn and Favreau are extremely talented, but I'm not entirely sure what they were going for with this script. There is absolutely nothing original, or imaginative about it, and Couples Retreat almost feels like a lazy, slapped together production used to get a paid trip to Bora Bora, where the movie was filmed. It features every "marriage" trope you could imagine, and I have to be honest, I wasn't thrilled with any of the characters. It was really difficult for me to figure out why I was supposed to root for them all to stay together. In fact, there was a couple of times I was pretty sure it would be healthier if a few of these couples split up because I couldn't understand the appeal of remaining married to one another. So many of the jokes fall flat, including the hunky, oiled up yoga instructor named Salvadore, who of course makes the men uncomfortable in his tiny speedo as he helps them shift their bodies into provocative poses. Sigh.

Despite enjoying the cast, I had a difficult time with Couples Retreat. It has some funny moments due to the comedic talent of the cast, but it's extremely formulaic with an ending that was far too neat and tidy, given the trouble all of these relationships seemed to be in. Am I supposed to believe that a week in the tropics with a few therapy sessions will somehow snap everyone back into marital bliss? Movies like these recycle gags and material constantly, and occasionally it works with an adept script and good director, but Couples Retreat is lacking both (and I love Peter Billingsley! I do.). Given it was shot in Bora Bora, it's definitely a beautiful looking film, but that's not enough to make it enjoyable, or even interesting.

I rated it a little bit higher than I initially intended, simply because I really did love the cast. It's just a shame that the script didn't give any of them much to work with.

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau, Fazion Love, Kristin Davis
Directed by: Peter Billingsley
Rated: PG-13
Watched: 05.04.2019
Fun Facts:
- Vince Vaughn's father Vernon makes another cameo here as the father of Vaughn's character.
Notable Song: Me Love by Sean Kingston

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  1. Nice review! I remember checking this out of the library after it was released, and just cringing the whole way through.

    1. thanks! yeah, I think it had a lot of potential, especially with a great cast, but it just fell flat.


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