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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis, Jean Reno
DIRECTED BY
Peter Billingsley (Yes, THAT Peter Billingsley!)
SCREENPLAY
Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
107 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Universal
 "Couples Retreat" Review 
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Who would have guessed that it would be "Couples Retreat," a formulaic retread of virtually every other island-based dysfunctional couples film ever made, that would nearly prove me wrong?

The latest flick to appear on my "10 Fall Films That Are Really Gonna' Suck" list, "Couples Retreat" rather surprisingly doesn't suck.

Will I recommend it?

Not hardly, but Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, in particular, seem to be having a good time playing characters they could likely play in their sleep and the end result is that "Couples Retreat" works a lot better than one could ever expect.

The biggest problem in "Couples Retreat" would appear to be, and this is just an educated opinion, that first-time director Peter Billingsley (best known as Ralphie in "A Christmas Story") appears to have been pressured to produce a funny, slightly raunchy, slightly intelligent flick with a PG-13 rating for mass consumption. Unfortunately, this means that "Couples Retreat" is neither as funny as it might've been nor anywhere near intelligent enough to pass itself off as a true comedy for adults.

"Couples Retreat" introduces us to four couples, all friends.

Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman) appear to be the ideal couple, a happily married duo with two delightful children and an obvious spark between them.

Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis), on the other hand, are breathlessly waiting for their sole daughter to leave their house so they can guiltlessly finally part ways.

Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) truly love each other, but are stressed over their inability to reproduce, a circumstance beginning to produce cracks in their marriage.

Finally, there's Shane (Faizon Love), who has been recently dumped by his wife (Tasha Smith) and may be going through a mid-life crisis with a woman half his age (Kali Hawk).

Jason and Cynthia decide that a trip to the trendy Eden, a couples resort, is the answer to their problems and in order to get the discounted group rate they recruit their other friends to go along.

You do see where this is going, right?

As predicted in my Fall films feature column, "Couples Retreat" is infinitely predictable, formulaic and goes extended periods without a laugh nor an ounce of energy. However, there are those other moments when "Couples Retreat" seems to almost fire on all cylinders, moments almost always involving the consistently funny Favreau and a delightful Faizon Love. While Vaughn himself isn't necessarily serving up anything new here, his chemistry with Akerman is solid and, while I never thought I'd say this, Akerman serves up the film's most entertaining performance from the actresses.

Jason Bateman, on the other hand, is starting to feel like he's in a cinematic rut with each performance starting to resemble his previous performance. Bell, Davis and Hawk, on the other hand, simply aren't given much to do.

Rather than being a film that truly sucks, "Couples Retreat" is simply a "fluff" film with enough easygoing laughs to likely justify an afternoon matinee or, perhaps more ideally, catching it on home video once released.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 

    The Official Rating Guideline
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