I have established an unofficial three-tiered classification for movies that I apply as soon as I see the trailer: Must see in theaters, wait for dvd or wait for cable. I do realize that it is prejudging a movie based solely on the trailer, but that's supposed to be the point of the preview anyway. It should establish if the film appeals to you or not. "Couples Retreat" was one of those that fell into the "wait for dvd" category. The trailer did not look interesting at all; however, it starred Vince Vaughn so that kept it out of the last tier.
Then E sends me a text the other day and proclaimed how this movie was HILARIOUS. He actually had it in upper case letters too. He even went as far as to give it an "A-". He couldn't have referring to the same movie. Not based on the trailer. If he was right, it would mean that it would be the rare instance where the trailer sucked but the movie was tha bomb. Well that meant I had to see it. So was he right? Let's just say that me and him are gonna' fight.
The plot is exactly what the title implies. "Couples Retreat" follows four midwestern couples who embark on a journey to a tropical island resort. One couple (Jason Bateman and Kristin Bell) sees their relationship is in danger so in order to save their marriage, they recruit three of their couple friends to join them at the resort known as Eden. The other three couples reluctantly sign up thinking their participation in the resort's couple therapy is optional. They get there hoping to enjoy jet skiing and other fun activities but realize their couple therapy sessions are mandatory.
The manner in which Jason (Bateman) and Cynthia (Bell) springs the idea on their friends was rather odd. Not the powerpoint presentation they did. That was actually somewhat amusing. I mean presenting the idea and giving their friends a week's notice. Who does that? But what got me is how every single one of the friends was able to go. So with only a week's notice, they could all not only afford the time off to take a week's vacation but could also afford the trip. What are the odds of 6 people having jobs with that type of flexibility AND that kind of loot on such short notice? Must be nice.
The best parts of "Couples Retreat" werethe scenery. You know that's a bad indictment on a movie when the landscape is the highlight, but it's true. The island paradise they went to was breathtakingly amazing. The entire time I sat there struggling trying to find the "hilarious" parts, I couldn't help but think of the most obvious: Vince probably came up with the idea for the movie just so he could find a way to go on vacation and get paid for it.
Vaughn and longtime friend and collaborator Jon Favreau have had some good luck in the past when they collaborate on a script. This wasn't one of them. Favreau's part was definitely something he wrote for himself (in what world would young girls swoon over Favreau?) and Vince tries to be funny with his signature rambling diatribe here and there; however, they both uncharacteristically fall flat thru much of the movie. What's worse is the writing for the other characters is even less inspired.
This one should have truly been called "Couples Therapy". That was clearly the intended focus. There was very little humor and several moments where they beat you over the head with ways for a couple to work on their relationship. If it wasn't the counselors at the resort delivering the message, it was the couples themselves attempting it by their verbal ineractions with one another. After a while, you're sitting there not laughing and slightly annoyed that they tried to pass this off as a comedy.
In the end, it turns out I was right. The trailer proved "Couples Retreat" was just as mediocre as I thought it would be. There were a few moments that may make you crack a smile, but bust a gut laughing? Not so much. The only thing keeping me from wanting to fight E for recommending this one was the fact that I didn't have to pay for it. Then we would have had issues. Instead, I went to my favorite online "free" movie site to view it there. Still, after rating this one so high, I'm beginning to think there must be something in that water that E is drinking down there in Mexico.
My rating: C -