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October 10, 2009
Review - " Couples Retreat "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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I think I may go back and re-evaluate all my past reviews and redo the ratings based on those criteria - but with the 1/2 star
increments added in. ( I may even add a 4 1/2 star rating which I've never used) - And of course I have the frowny face  
which is reserved for those truly awful films. Movies so bad, with absolutely no redeeming value, that I can't even give them the
 star rating. After all what makes a 'good' or 'bad' movie can be difficult to quantify but whether you hated, liked, or loved a
movie is pretty easy to judge (at least to yourself). And really shouldn't we, as reviewers, really be telling you not whether or
not it's great art but whether or not it's enjoyable?

Everyone loves a vacation, right? Beautiful scenery, tropical drinks, fun in the sun. Add a few of your closest friends and you
could have the trip of a lifetime — or a romantic getaway gone horribly awry. To be fair, the four pairs in Couples Retreat
don't realize what they're agreeing to when they head to Eden East, a swanky resort on a remote island. But once the
relationship boot camp begins, the friendships quickly break down, and it's often more depressing than hilarious.

The movie's couplings range in age, family size, and personality, with Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman at the center. As
Dave and Ronnie, they are perhaps the most "normal" of the bunch. Between Dave's demanding job making video games
(Guitar Hero product placement) and raising two young sons, Dave and Ronnie don't even realize their problems until they
are forced into couples skill-building. Vaughn is his typical wise-cracking character, but a touch of sweetness makes his on-
screen relationship with Akerman the most enjoyable to watch. You can actually believe that they love each other and aren't
using the trip as a band-aid for a bullet hole.

Jason and Cynthia (played by Jason Bateman
and Kristen Bell), on the other hand, are a lot
harder to relate to as two type-A personalities
with an undying love for organization and
PowerPoint presentations. Jason and Cynthia
present the idea of the group vacation to their
friends as a last-ditch effort to save their
marriage (promising that the therapy sessions
are optional, of course). Bell is her typical
adorable self, but Bateman is insufferable.
His character is painfully meticulous and
overbearing, making the audience feel just as
suffocated as Cynthia does.

Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis)
represent the worst of the worst: the couple
that's been together so long that they don't
even notice each other anymore. The high
school sweethearts take the trip not as an
opportunity to re-kindle the flame, but to
chase skirts (or in this case, bikini bottoms)
and muscular yoga instructors. Favreau gets a few laughs with his quest to get to Eden West, the "singles" side of the island,
but age-wise, Davis doesn't quite fit in with Bell and Ackerman. It's also hard to laugh at characters that embody one of the
biggest fears for young couples, and their ice-cold relationship is almost too realistic to scoff at. Their daughter is about to
turn 18 and they can't wait for her to move out so they can split up. They try to put on a happy face in front of others but their
contempt for each other is so obvious I can't imagine how their daughter and friends have missed it for all these years. On a
side note - Kristin Davis looks so amazing in a bikini it's hard to imagine she's in her mid forties. She's a living breathing
testament to personal trainers.

Then there's Shane (Faizon Love), who's newly separated from the wife he still loves, but brings along his 20-year-old
girlfriend for the ride instead. As Trudy, Kali Hawk steals a lot of the laughs as she yearns to drink and party all night long
while her boyfriend would rather take a nap. One joke that never gets old: Trudy's insistence on calling Shane "Daddy"
throughout the entire film.

I was disappointed in the ending. I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying all the couples fixed their problems and lived
happily every after (although not necessarily in the way you might think). Of course as the most functional married couple you
know Vaughn and Akerman were going to kiss and make up (and, of course, you want them to). As unlikely as it would seem
you find yourself routing for Favreau and Davis to rediscover the love they once had for each other. I was glad to see them
passionately fall into each others arms after declaring how much they hate each other with equal passion. Unfortunately
Kristen Bell and Jason Bateman should have split up at the end of the film. These are two people that just don't belong
together. Hollywood should figure out that even in romantic comedies, when you have multiple romance stories going on in a
single movie, not all of them have to have a happy ending. Case in point just look at "Love Actually" & "He's Just Not That Into
You". And who's to say their 'happily ever after' can't be found apart?

In spite of the Hollywood ending, I really enjoyed this movie. I've said
it before, enjoyment of comedies often depend on the audience you
see them with. If everyone else is laughing you'll laugh twice as much
and twice as hard. Unlike the other film I saw yesterday this time the
theater was packed and the whole audience was roaring with laugter.
This was plain and simple a funny fun movie. When I go to a movie I
don't always need (or expect) great art. I want to be entertained and
"Couple Retreat" did that, in spades. It is one of the funniest movies
this year.

This is Peter Billingsley's feature length directorial debut. Yes it's
THAT Peter Billingsley - the kid who shot his eye out with the Red
Rider BB gun from 'A Christmas Story'. "Couples Retreat" is funny
enough, with a truly first rate headliner cast, it should make enough
money that little Ralphie will surely get other chances to prove himself
behind the camera.

I had difficulty choosing which pictures from the movie to use in the
review. Obviously I chose the ones that tend to show off Kristen &
Kristin's attributes the best. So I have a thing for gorgeous girls
in bikinis - so sue me. Click below to see all the "couples Retreat"
pics I had to choose from. Ive sort of put them together in a humorous
little travel brochure for Eden Resorts. Of course to really get the
humour you need to see the movie.

here for more pictures from "Couples Retreat"
Kristen Bell, Malin Ackerman, & Kristin Davis - bikinis at the bar - in Couples Retreat
Couples Retreat
Directed by: Peter Billingsley
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman,
Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Jon Favreau,
Kristin Davis, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Jean
Reno, Ken Jeoung

I debated over whether to give "Couples
Retreat" 3 1/2 stars or 4. Does it really rate
a "very good" rating? As a film it's not really
a four star movie. However, I enjoyed it so
much that I just had to give in. Besides, as
you know if you've been reading all my
reviews, I've been doing a bit of "grade
inflation" in my ratings lately and probably
giving many films a 1/2 star more that they
truly deserve. I think I get this from Netflix
whose ratings are:
I hated it,
**      I didn't like it,
I liked it,  
I really liked it, &  
I Loved It!.
Kristen Bell shows off her atributes in her pink bikini
Kristin Davis displays her amazingly toned body in this beige bikini
With such a strong headline cast, it's disappointing that the
supporting actors steal the show. I laughed the hardest at Dave
and Ronnie's adorable boys (who get far too little screen time) and
at the motley crew of therapists and other wacky workers at the
resort dedicated to making this the trip from hell.

Vince Vaughn is a funny guy. He rarely fails to make me laugh. I
can't say I like all his films ('The Break Up' for instance) but he
rarely fails to entertain. In "Couples" he's is a bit of an ass, but a
lovable one. He is a typical husband, he does all the obligatory
things that he hates (although grudgingly), like picking out tile,
because it's important to his wife.  When his wife asks him to
choose between various bathroom fixtures he says "I like
the silver one", of course she replies that they're all silver. Here's a
hint ladys: We're men, if we truly hate something we'll tell you,
other than that - we don't care. It's just a faucet. If we turn the
handle and hot water comes out we're happy.

Ken Jeong plays one of the therapists at Eden East. Jeong has
been in so many bit parts in so many movies lately and he steals
the show in every one of them every time he's on camera. He's in
several upcoming movies over the next year and I can't wait to see
all of them.

I take back what I said about Kristen Bell in my
'Sarah Marshall'
review. She can act. She won't win any awards for "Couple's
Retreat" but she does a very good job as the exasperated wife of
an overly obnoxious organizer. Plus she looks freakin' great in a
bikini (and I bet she looks pretty damn good out of one as well)