Blu-Ray Review: Avoid Dull Trip to ‘Couples Retreat’

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CHICAGO – It seems ironic that “Couples Retreat,” a film about a group of friends who think they’re going on a peaceful vacation but get hoodwinked into couples counseling, is itself a bait-and-switch, advertising a sexy comedy and delivering a dull trip. Avoid this awful excuse for a comedy. Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0

Like a couple headed for divorce, “Couples Retreat” starts promisingly, goes through a few bumpy patches, and ends in a final act so unfunny, poorly made, and ill-conceived that it nearly approaches “so bad you should see it” categorization. The final act of “Couples Retreat” with its endless character revelations and awful resolutions is unbearably written, directed, and performed.

Couples Retreat was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9th, 2010.
Couples Retreat was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9th, 2010.
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

The set-up isn’t bad and the cast is clearly talented (or at least displayed talent in the past, although one would never know it from recent career choices by Vince Vaughn). The overly analyzed and therapy crazy world of the modern couple seems like a ripe subject for satire.

Couples Retreat was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9th, 2010.
Couples Retreat was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9th, 2010.
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

Picture the two guys from “Swingers” (Jon Favreau also stars) as potential divorcees years down the road. Most of us go from bar-hopping to child-rearing and if only Vaughn and Favreau had brought the same energy they did to that modern classic about getting together to their film about falling apart, it would have made a great bookend. The only way to look at this as a bookend is to note how far these two talented actors have fallen.

Jason Bateman and Kristin Bell play “the uptight couple,” a pair of Powerpoint-loving Yuppies who analyze every element of their lives to the point of exhaustion. They have been torn apart by their inability to conceive and it has pushed them on the road to divorce. In a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, they convince three couples to join them at Eden, a gorgeous resort designed to bring couples back together. The easily-pitched three couples that join the Yuppies are the “average couple” (Vince Vaughn & Malin Akerman), “cheating couple” (Kristin Davis & Jon Favreau), and “new couple” (Faizon Love & Kali Hawk).

None of the relationships in “Couples Retreat” feel genuine and I don’t just mean just romantically. None of these people even seem like actual friends much less lovers or characters worth caring about. Bluntly, “Couples Retreat” isn’t funny. Bateman and Bell make out the best because they feel slightly genuine and Favreau and Vaughn have a scene or two together where one can see a bit of the spark that once made them a very funny comedy duo. And the whole thing starts promisingly with a few decent scenes and a couple of laughs, but they’re distant memories by the time screenwriters Vaughn, Favreau, and Dana Fox actually try to get emotional in the final act and the film simply becomes unbearable.

How many comedy disasters does one movie star get before he stops getting steady work? After “Fred Claus,” “Four Christmases,” and “Couples Retreat,” Vince Vaughn seems to be pushing his quota. Maybe he needs a vacation.

The Blu-ray release of “Couples Retreat” includes Universal’s excellent U-Control, which allows the viewer picture in picture video commentary with Vaughn and director Peter Billingsley. The technology is better-used for behind-the-scenes featurettes than video commentaries (I’ve never understood why anyone wants to watch someone watch a movie) but U-Control should be on every disc in some form, so we’ll take what we can get.

Other special features include 2 Blu-ray exclusive deleted scenes, alternate ending & extended scenes (with Vaughn and Billingsley commentary), gag reel, “Therapy’s Greatest Hits,” “Paradise Found: Filming in Bora Bora,” and “Behind the Yoga”.

‘Couples Retreat’ is released by Universal Home Video and stars Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Kristin Bell, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis, Kali Hawk, and Jean Reno. It was written by Vaughn, Favreau, & Dana Universal and directed by Peter Billingsley. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9th, 2010. It is rated PG-13. content director Brian Tallerico

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