The most original
and clever thing about Couples Retreat is its title.
I think it took the most effort to come up with, too. Beyond
the genius of the name, this movie makes the sucking sound of
a Hoover with a mouse caught in the hose. This movie can be
used as an admission of guilt whenever someone involved in it
is accused of never having a single good or new idea. It is
as sloppy as joes made from dogshit, as pointless as a kindergarten
pencil and as amusing as getting crabs from your grandmother's
towels. It's fucking awful.
If you go see Couples
Retreat, be forewarned that you'll sit near a sad, lonely
middle-aged woman who speaks loudly about TV characters as through
they are real people in her life and who sees the trailer for
the latest Nancy Meyers chick-lit crapfest and says out loud,
"I should write movies. How do I go about doing that?" because
she has so romanticized the ways in which she has fucked up
her own life and relationships that she thinks being fat and
mean is comedy gold. She will also howl throughout the movie,
particularly at the parts where nobody else laughs, not because
she's amused but because she wants others to think she is. And
she'll kick the back of your chair. How do I know you'll encounter
this woman? Because this shit was written for her.
was "written" by Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, along with Dana
Fox , responsible for some spectacularly shitty romantic comedies
recently (one so bottom-feeding it starred Ashton Kutcher).
I'm guessing it took one lunchtime to pen it, but they were
done by dessert. Vaughn and Favreau started out in Hollywood
thinking they were going to make a difference, tell original
stories and be originals. Instead, they've both become fat and
lazy jackasses who make crap so long as it pays well. This time,
they've made a flabby, formulaic romantic comedy that forgot
the romance, the comedy and anything resembling a plot. It doesn't
even try its lousiness look or sound good.
Jason Bateman and
Kristin Bell, playing yuppies whose only defining characteristic
is that they use PowerPoint a lot, may get a divorce. Before
they decide, though, they want to go to tropical Bora Bora for
a couples therapy vacation. Problem is, it's a little pricey
and they need three couple friends to accompany them to make
it affordable. Even though it's stupid and implausible to think
four couples would drop everything to go to Bora Bora on a week's
notice, the movie spends a shitload of unfunny time on the point.
And on scenes that are supposed to establish the characters
but really make them all look interchangeable and annoying.
For the first thirty minutes, Bateman and Bell work to convince
Vaughn, Favreau, Faizon Love and their wives/girlfriends. The
scene introducing Love has him begging Vaughn to cosign a loan
because he has no money. Yet, next thing we know, he's on a
fancy vacation halfway across the world. You lazy fucking hacks.
And to not even mention the guy's money woes again for the entire
The first act also
features Vaughn arguing over kitchen tile and watching his son
pee into a showroom-display toilet. That's so fucking hilarious
that it's reprised later when the kid craps in the same bowl.
God damn! That's why screenwriters deserve their millions. And
so do the rednecks on America's Funniest Home Videos.
There is a scene where two pre-adolescent kids tell their parents
"We want you to go on this vacation. We don't want you to get
a divorce," in those words. Talk about lazy writing. There's
also a lot of unfunny arguing among people with so few likeable
qualities that they can't even stand each other.
All that suburban
malaise unnecessarily delays the reason Couples Retreat
exists, which is to be a comedy about people who don't think
they have marital problems encountering new-agey touchy-feely
shit that annoys them but--surprise!--reveals they really don't
communicate well with their spouses. The time in Bora-Bora,
while very scenic, is as formless as one of Mrs. Filthy's tunics.
It's a shambling collection of scenes without jokes. Jean Reno
is the couples therapist who leads them through a series of
exercises, like disrobing for each other, or going snorkeling.
These scenes don't offer much promise to begin with, but also
have no punchline. I don't know if we're supposed to laugh at
how the movie depicts couples therapy because it doesn't have
the balls to either embrace or mock it. Maybe the jokes would
have come if Vaughn and Favreau had kept writing the script
into early afternoon instead of knocking off before cheesecake.
There are too many
scenes of the four asshole couples with therapists telling them
their problems. The therapists are comic actors, but they aren't
given anything funny to do or say. They just voice what's obvious.
As a result these scenes are unfunny and tedious. Also, an important
lesson for director Peter Billingsley (yes, that Peter Billingsley)
and the writers is that married couples yelling at each other
is not inherently funny. It's something we can get for free
at Taco Bell.
For 80 minutes Couples
Retreat meanders from predictable scene to predictable scene,
such as when Kristin Davis gets a sexy male masseur like she
hoped, only to learn he is gay. Oh, how clever! Or when the
Fabio-like yoga instructor bends them into positions charged
with sexual innuendo. In its last half-hour, though, the movie
finds some strand of a plot. Love's girlfriend disappears and
the group decide they must travel to the "swinging singles"
side of the resort to retrieve her, and they must do it by sunrise
or forfeit... I'm not the fuck sure what they forfeit since
they are miserable and have already done everything the couples
retreat offers. No matter, since the movie ultimately ignores
its own ticking clock and the couples don't return on time.
There is a Guitar
Hero showdown scene that takes about as long as passing
a kidney stone. I don't know about you, but watching somebody
else play a video game I can play at home on the big screen
ain't worth ten bucks to me. But it counts as one of Couples
Retreat's most exciting sequences. Once on the singles side,
there are many speeches about love, fidelity and that shit.
All the couples, when faced with temptation, realize that they
really love their spouses. Not convincingly, of course. Just
conveniently. In another matter of ridiculous and unjustified
convenience, Love's ex-wife is on the single side, having come
all the to Bora Bora to find him, and they realize they were
always in love ad will get back together.
Besides the slack
plotting, obvious setups and pointlessness, what I hated most
about Couples Retreat is the characters in it, or the
lack of characters. We're told Vaughn either makes or sells
video games, I don't know which. But we never see how this impacts
him until his big showdown. We don't know what anyone else does,
nor do we care, because they are interchangeable assholes. They
are superficial, consumerist pricks so self-absorbed that, in
Vaughn's case, they dump their kids at a moment's notice. Similarly,
all the fucking problems they have are so obviously written
that there isn't a single thing of interest revealed in the
therapy. And since the problems are obvious, so are the solutions.
If I ever went to Costco, I'm pretty sure I'd find them in the
golf apparel aisle.
is just a shitty movie, written and starring people who wouldn't
care less about it or us. Watching it is a crappy way to spend
two hours, as it probably was for Favreau and Vaughn to write
it. One Finger.
to tell Filthy Something?