Monday, October 12, 2009


The good news is that Couples Retreat, a movie whose incredibly low Tomatometer rating has actually gone up to 13% since the last time I looked at it, isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I really don't think it deserves a number like 13%. The bad news is that, "isn't as bad as I thought it would be," still means, "pretty damn bad." Well, not even "pretty damn bad." Words like boring, lame, mediocre, and stupid all come to mind and they all apply, especially in the second half. What's really good news for the filmmakers is that, since it's a lame, inoffensive comedy with broad audience appeal, it naturally opened at a strong number one.

If you had told me I wouldn't particularly enjoy a movie with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, I would have told you...well, I would have told you that I wasn't particularly surprised since the last movie with those two, Four Christmases, was also a lame, inoffensive comedy I didn't particularly enjoy. It also was a big hit so I guess these two have hit on a winning formula and don't care when internet morons like me bash their work. On the off chance that they do though...

Vince Vaughn plays the Vince Vaughn character. In this case, that character's name is Dave. Dave has a pretty good life with his gorgeous wife Ronnie (Malin Ackerman) and their sons, two of the cutest boys you've ever seen. Their main problem is that Dave spends too much time at his job which,come to think of it, I don't know what the hell he does. I'm assuming he works for Generico, the company that employs 90% of movie characters. Whatever he does, it seems to pay well since Dave can afford to do things like spend a thousand bucks on new bathroom tiles and cosign a loan so that his broke friend Shane (Faizon Love) can afford to impress his new 20 year old girlfriend with a motorcycle. His other friends include Joey (Favreau), a cheating husband who's only waiting until his daughter goes to college to divorce his cheating wife (Kristin Davis) and Jason (Jason Bateman) who's also having marital problems and manages to sweep Dave and the rest of the gang up in his quest for a solution. He and his wife Cynthia (Kristin Bell) want the other three couples to join them at a high class island resort that also has an elaborate marriage counseling program. Dave forgets he's a workaholic long enough to agree to the last minute two week vacation and the other two couples tag along thinking they'll have an island adventure while Jason and Cynthia do the couples therapy.

Little do they know that they have agreed to go to the only expensive resort on the planet that apparently strives to model itself after a fascist dictatorship. British comedian Peter Serafinowicz plays Sctanley (that's not a typo), the resort's manager whose pleasant demeanor barely masks his inner control freak. He very pleasantly informs them that they must all participate in the couples therapy or else, and again he says this in a very polite way, he'll kick their assess off the island.

Up to this point, it's a fairly decent movie. Vaughn scores laughs with his usual manic-sarcastic-superior act that he does in every movie and everyone else generally comes off looking pretty good, especially Serafinowicz. It's right around this point that it starts getting stupid.

Dave and Ronnie didn't think they had any serious problems in their marriage. Shows what they knew. It turns out that the fact Dave didn't like the expensive tiles Ronnie picked out meant they were on the verge of divorce or something. Jason and Cynthia treat the whole thing as some sort of competition and ignore the fact that they're unhappy because she can't get pregnant. Joey and Lucy want to break up anyway so you would think they'd just go through the motions and sneak off to the swingers resort on the other side of the island like they planned but no, they have to act like kids instead. Shane discovers that girls half your age who date you because you shower them with toys are actually quite immature. Mostly, the last half of the movie isn't so much a story as it is a series of episodes that mostly go on too long. The characters really go out of their way to behave in a way that no human being has ever behaved and, if they're presented with a smart, intelligent option and a mindbogglingly stupid option, guess which one they choose? For example, Shane's girlfriend disappears. What do they do? Their options are, "Inform the management so they can search the island and verify that she didn't drown in the ocean of crack her head on a rock," and, "Tramp around in an unfamiliar jungle in the middle of the night so they can get to the swinger's resort and look for her there." Guess which one they did.

There is one really good scene where Vince Vaughn and Peter Serafinowicz participate in a Guitar Hero throwdown but that's really too little, too late. Couples Retreat's greatest sin isn't the dumb plot but, rather, that too much of the dumb plot isn't funny. That's the one unforgivable sin in a comedy.

One more thing. To whoever it was that decided it was a good idea to have Jon Favreau go shirtless while getting a rubdown from a pretty masseuse, become visibly aroused, imply that the masseuse should give him a handjob and then order her out of the room so he can jack off when she refuses, this would be a good time to retire from show business. One of the reasons is that this was basically sexual harassment and instead of laughing I was just feeling sorry for the masseuse and the other reason is that we had ALREADY HAD a Jon Favreau masturbation scene earlier in the movie and that was one too many to begin with.

1 comment:

Dan Coyle said...

You know, it's like the film is punishing us for wanting to see a movie where Malin Akerman and Kristen Bell wear bikinis if there's not one, but TWO Happy smacking his Hogan gags.

Or perhaps co-writer Favreau just thinks his erect penis is really interesting.