COUPLES RETREAT review by Gary Dean Murray Oct 9, 2009 2:51:09 GMT -5
Post by BIGFANBOY on Oct 9, 2009 2:51:09 GMT -5
Review by Gary Dean Murray
Vince Vaughn has been making a name as a funny man for a number of years. At first he was regulated to the second banana position, and was very successful with that status. In films like Wedding Crashers, he proved that waiting and taking comedic shots was the best way to win the hearts and minds of cinema fans. But as a leading man, his roles have been less than stellar. In Fred Claus and Four Christmases, he just couldn't pull off the lead. So the best thing to do is go back to the ensemble piece and spread the comedy beats to a larger cast. The result is the mostly satisfying flick Couples Retreat.
Mr. Vaughn plays Dave, a middle class guy with two kids and a loving wife Ronnie (Malin Akerman). They have a solid life with hectic schedules and a large brood of friends. We have Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell), an anal retentive couple trying to conceive. There is Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristen Davis), a couple that married too early and resents their life, just waiting for their daughter to leave for college so they can divorce. And speaking of divorce, the last is Shane (Faizon Love). He's a newly single guy who just started a relationship with a very young woman. Though he pines for his abandoning wife, he tries to move on with life.
Jason and Cynthia announce to the group that they are considering divorce for a series of seemingly practical reasons. This comes as a shock to the others. Though the two admit that they might be able to save their relationship by attending a couples island retreat called Eden. Jason states that the group could all go half-off because of a last minute cancellation but all eight people would have to go. It is a giant package rate too good to ignore. Jason assures the others that it will be just be a few minor meetings and loads of fun in the tropical sun.
In the blink of an eye, they are on this paradise. Soon they find that there are two sides of the resort - the single side East and the married side West. All the fun happens on the other side while their side is an intensive workshop with early meetings and relationship building exercises. The also find out that if any of them leave or fail any part of the week, the entire group will be forced to leave and have to pay the full price of the trip. As implausible as all this sounds, it just becomes a means to build comedy upon. It doesn't have to make a lick of sense, it just has to be a vessel to get the characters into a difficult situation.
The film is full of everything one would expect from a romantic comedy. The fun of these films is not the outcome but the way one gets there. We get all the old standby jokes about infidelity, mastur bation and middle-age. Since we're on the ocean, there has to be a shark scene. But all the clichéd scenes work because of the cast.
Kristin Davis and Kristen Bell deliver in their slightly written roles, getting some moments here and there to shine. With her soon to be 'cougar' role of Lucy, Kristin Davis shows that she can get as many laughs as her male comics. Her eyes just sparkle as she delivers in scene after scene. But it is Malin Akerman who is given the most challenging role with Ronnie. Not only does her character have the biggest character arc, she also has to compete for screen time against Vince Vaughn, a Herculean task to the nth degree. The biggest question about all of these women is why they would stay with such a loser pack of men.
Jason Bateman and Jon Favreau both play their stock roles, neither doing or saying anything challenging. The roles here are more of a waste of talent, both just phoning in performances that could have been much more than what was delivered on screen. Faizon Love is the true find in Couples Retreat, giving us the biggest share of laughs in a role that, though been done before, puts a fresh coat of paint on a stock part. He is just this giant teddy bear of a man, showing a vulnerable side.
Jean Reno as the spiritual guide Marcel delivers a funky new-age vibe, but in such a large cast there is little for him to do. The star of this enterprise is Vince Vaughn and he does give a star turn. True that there is little growth from his similar character in Wedding Crashers, but here his manner is a bit more caring. The locations of Couples Retreat become a visual feast, full of sandy beaches and crystal waters. This kind of film could increase the tourism of French Polynesia to a higher degree. Eden is the type of place all dream about visiting but few actually get to attend.
Director Peter Billingsley paints a familiar picture with Couples Retreat giving us a fairly stock situations with fairly stock jokes and fairly stock characters. This is one of those feel-good date flicks that should make a ton of cash. It is a light film that women take their men to droves.
To go back to BIGFANBOY.com click here - www.bigfanboy.com