From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Monday, October 5, 2009

Couples Retreat - C-

Rated PG-13 on appeal for sexual content and language, 107 minutes

Tiresome "Couples Retreat" isn't as fun as it looks

"Couples Retreat" should have everything going for it. A talented cast, headlined by Vince Vaughn. A scenic tropical location. A script written by Vaughn himself and pal Jon Favreau, director of "Iron Man" who also co-stars in the film. Then why does it plummet to mediocrity so quickly? In spite of a handful of reflex laughs you've already seen in the trailers, this thinly- drawn and predictable comedy is so tiresome you'll be worn out by the end. Oh, and it's also not that funny.

"Couples Retreat" centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. The couples have gone at the encouragement of Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell), whose very structured marriage is on the verge of collapse. They'll get a group price if the rest of their friends go. Dave (Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman) are a busy couple with two young kids; Joey (Favreau) and Lucy ("Sex and the City's" Kristin Davis) married at a young age and need a break; and newly divorced Shane (Faizon Love) will use it as a getaway to impress his young girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk).

They believe they'll go to have fun in the sun while they help support Jason and Cynthia. Wrong. The part of the island they're on is basically a big couples therapy session designed to help strengthen a marriage, but could end up destroying all of their relationships in the process.

The film's weak premise starts out modestly well but has nowhere to go and suffers under a couple of crucial mistakes. The first is having another Vaughn pal, Peter Billingsley, who is best remembered as the cute Ralphie from "A Christmas Story," direct; his glaring lack of flair for comedy and inexperience shows in the mishandling of the material. The other big mistake is Vaughn and Favreau's lackluster, unoriginal script, filled with unlovable, one-dimensional characters and predictable setups (sharks, swinging single and muscle studs) that you can see coming from a mile away.

Sure, Vaughn is a funny guy who makes most dialogue seem better than it really is and some of his usual overreactions highlight the film (but he's still annoyingly chatty, unsurprising given he wrote the script). But the premise of "Couples Retreat" grows tiresome, repetitive and unfunnier with each episode, going on about 20 minutes too long trying too hard to wrap everything up in a nice package. A braver, more realistic ending could've worked far better instead of the falsely happy, insincere ending that the writers opted for.

Of the other couples in "Couples Retireat," most are underwritten and largely unsympathetic, it's no wonder these folks are unhappy marriages. Malin Akerman ("Watchman") is beautiful but empty; the rest - Bateman, Bell, Favreau, Davis and Love - are all likable but play people you really wouldn't want to be around for more than 5 minutes, evident in those excruciatingly awkward couples therapy scenes that are in no way fun to watch.

Some may enjoy "Couples Retreat," and there are a few entertaining moments, but this tiresome, weak comedy is just basically an excuse for Vaughn and his friends to throw a mess of a movie together, stumble around a tropical island and call it a "comedy." Vince Vaughn is engaging, but after this misstep of a movie and last year's woeful "Four Christmases," he's becoming vastly overrated.