Lavishly shot yet lagging in execution, Couples Retreat comes across more as a place worth visiting than a movie worth enduring.
The film opens with David Bowie’s "Modern Love" playing soundtrack to an opening credit montage of married life and love through the decades.
Quickly, the viewer is introduced to its four couples in various states of marital duress: the busy parents (Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman); the serial cheaters (Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis); the uber professionals who are struggling to conceive (Jason Bateman & Kristen Bell); and the recent divorcee and his new young girlfriend (Faizon Love & Kali Hawk)
A hilarious power point presentation from the Bateman/Bell pair reveals they are strongly considering a divorce, and have turned to a last ditch effort to keep their marriage afloat though a weeklong therapy session at an exotic island named Eden.
After much prodding and pulling, the whole gang attends in order to take advantage of a group discount, with their stay on the island compromised of intense therapy sessions and group bonding activities, which includes a yoga session run by the island’s “Fabio” (Carlos Ponce) whose simulated sex acts on the wives have their husbands looking on dumbfounded.
Much of the films comedy rests upon the varied screen personalities of its leading men, who although sticking to their allotted and successful shticks, fail to save Couples Retreat from its tired gags, plodding script, and scenes which belong on the cutting room floor.
Although co-written by Vaughn & Favreau (along with What Happens in Vegas screenwriter Dana Fox), their magic of past is scantly seen, and while their are some entertaining moments to be sure, there is just not enough to fill this almost 2 hr film composed of mainly long stretches of bland material, courtesy of the pedestrain direction by Peter Billingsly.
The films women (Akerman, Bell, Davis) play the straight roles well, while constantly reminding the viewer that their husbands have got it too good with wives like these. Yet such is the crutch with Hollywood casting: beautiful women always play significant other to less attractive men.
Yet while the men try their best to be funny and the women are effortlessly beautiful, Couples Retreat is saved is its Bora-Bora location, with its crystal blue waters and tropical surroundings sure to conjure an urge in its viewers to leave the cinema and plan a holiday.
It is not surprising to find that Couples Retreat is a film for couples who can relate to the tug and pull of marriage and parenthood. For everyone else, this talented cast of players have done better things in better films.