Couple’s Retreat Review: An Abhorrently Unfunny and Mediocre Relationship Comedy

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There are no easy ways to go about rating a beyond mediocre comedy such as the directorial debut of actor Peter Billingsley entitled Couple’s Retreat, which is cliché ridden, lacks proper cinematic momentum, and has drastically unoriginal character portrayals that embody pure caricatures rather than unique representations. Any modern movie would be lucky to contain any of the actors on the casting list, yet the film doesn’t at all utilize any of their potential nor does the script allow any original or creative development. The final product of Couple’s Retreat comes off so juvenile and desperate that it really is only fitting for an audience that is so dried up and thirsting for any sort of comedy for it to have any significant effect. What is so embarrassing about the film is that it is written by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau of Swingers and Made fame, both of whom participated in this horrid piece of forceful comedy. The situations that drag this beaten horse of a comedy along are anti-climactic, unoriginal, and as the ending comes you will feel clairvoyant to the utter absurd and by the book conclusions that an overwhelming feeling of wasted time and money will wash over you. This is a particular example in modern comedies of what not to do when making a film and is about as funny as experiencing your own relationship therapy, which only for some would make for a good experience.

As the beginning of this relationship farce unfolds the characters seems more and more familiar as the plot continues to progress. The story involves four different couples, the main being Dave and Ronnie, played by a stretching his average charm Vince Vaughn and a beautiful yet typical Malin Akerman, who are happily married with normal problems consisting of dealing with their kids or shopping for supplies to remodel the kitchen. They are asked by their dear friends Jason and Cynthia, played by the admirably dry Jason Bateman and the not so multi-talented Kristen Bell, to join them on a couple’s vacation retreat because they are seriously considering divorce from their obviously withering controlled and logical marriage. If they get four couples to come along they get a great discount. So along with Dave, Ronnie, Jason, and Cynthia are Joey and Lucy, played by the dependable Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis, who were high school sweethearts but are both dealing with their wandering eyes, as well as their friend Shane (Faizon Love) who is newly divorced and is dating a 20 year old bimbo. Together they head to what appears to be the perfect vacation spot, but unfortunately it wouldn’t be a comedy if everything worked out the way you wanted it to. Of course the couples that are doing well will appear to be worse off due to this trip and even the seemingly happy couples, such as Dave and Ronnie, begin to question themselves. Will it all come full circle and miraculously heal all relationships, even the newly divorced Shane whose wife isn’t even on the island? If the sarcasm isn’t blatant enough then there is no help for you and maybe you’ll enjoy this movie. The entire story isn’t enthralling nor is it particularly interesting with its cliché turns and non-existent twists and by the time the conclusion is wrapping up you could have saved yourself a good two hours of unentertaining nothingness that has nothing new to say or contribute to the already tired relationship comedy genre.

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Usually in some films or comedies there are at least one or two good qualities to reflect upon after the film is over. But after a laugh less two hour stint with no interesting camera use, sensational comedic delivery, story development, or appealing characters, it makes it quite difficult to find anything admirable about this film. It moves at a lively pace but each scene tends to feel as if it’s being stretched for material accentuating that lack of foresight with the story as a whole. Even cameo appearances from Jean Reno, John Michael Higgins, and Ken Jeong aren’t funny at all, which was a total waste of their time and talent making certain scenes have an expectation for comedic liveliness but always ends up being flat. The entire film is flat, never lifting off to any particularly interesting drama or conflict until the inevitably bland and by the book conclusion. Each character’s struggles can be methodically guessed from the very beginning making the entertainment aspect of the film seem forced and too standard to even get involved with these stereotypical characters. Even the beautiful resort, which apparently has an extensive waiting list yet there seems to be no other guests at the resort at all, isn’t used to its visual potential making it seem inconsequential that it was used as the setting for this particular film’s set up. Instead it’s used exactly how it’s described in the film: as a “screen saver.”

Acting isn’t necessarily important for comedy but delivery for the script’s material becomes even more important to make it memorably funny. Unlike more recent comedies such as The Hangover or I Love You Man, which have a vast array of memorable quotes, line delivery, and successfully arranged circumstantial comedy, Couple’s Retreat fails on all of the comedy genre’s prescribed expectations. Even with a cast known for great comedic delivery, such as Jason Bateman and Jon Favreau, there is a lack of ingenuity and clever delivery in all of the scenes making an incredibly boring comedic atmosphere. Vaughn is in his typically charming mode but that can only carry the film so far. None of the actresses were given any substantial roles but rather they were just there to look beautiful, and while that is successfully done there can only be a yearning for more than just the looks. Wasted opportunities for cameos, average comedy writing, and typical story progression all played a significant role in tanking this film into comedic mediocrity.

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Out of all the films that are opening this week, while most might not be comedies, Couple’s Retreat should be the last on your list of movies to see in the theater. Even in a world where modern comedies have been getting worse Couple’s Retreat takes the tired formula and stretches it to an unbearable and incredibly unfunny level. The most you can expect from this film are mere smirks of laughter, which can be a tad enjoyable but you can get the same effect people watching, which is free. Audiences shouldn’t bother with this beyond mediocre film which reminds most of us that Hollywood nepotism for the already famous goes to ridiculous bounds, which grants money for a project that was sub-par at best by two actors who are known to write much better material. Unfunny, unoriginal, unwatchable, so don’t bother with it, please.

Grade: D

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