You cant fault people for wanting to take a trip to French Polynesia on someone elses dime. The water is so very blue, the sunsets are so very spectacular, the palms swaying the trade winds are so very alluring. And yet, as Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn sat down to write the screenplay set there, they should have had the good grace to at least attempt to make a comedy with something approaching humor. Aside from one reference to coffee chains abandoned outlet, the closest thing to a genuine chuckle in this bloodless romp through love, sex, and marriage, is well, nothing actually approaches within the same time zone as a chuckle. Even the outlet reference is ruined with a non-sequitor of a tag after the closing credits in which the gentlemen of the piece relieve themselves while discussing the Federal Reserve.
No wonder that during the shark attack, by harmless lemon sharks it should be noted, the sympathy was not necessarily with the humans in the water.
The script is a slim excuse of a plot. Four couples at a five-star resort that caters to rebuilding relationships. Only one of the couples is actually there for the therapy to save their marriage, the others are there because there is a special rate for four couples and the one couple trying to save their marriage cant afford to go unless the other six people are dragged along. That couple, Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell), are the perky organized ones whose power point presentation about their difficulties conceiving and the paradise that awaits them triggers this exercise in tedium. The other couples include the happy one (Vaughn and Malin Ackerman), the ones who hate the sight of one another and are only together until their kid goes off to college (Favreau and Kristen Davis), and the tubby divorced guy (Faizon Love) with a bad credit rating, a torch for his ex-wife, and a pink-haired, 20-year-old girlfriend (Kali Hawk) of two-weeks standing. Predictable low-jinks ensue involving a buff yoga instructor with boundary issues, couples therapists that range from ineffectual to even more ineffectual, and the couples whisperer who runs the joint (Jean Reno), who offers New Age platitudes and jargon while sporting cutting-edge spa wear.
The couples lust madly and predictably for the attractive resort staff, and prolong the agony of the flicks running time with dialogue that seems to have been dashed off while the plane taking Vaugh and Favreau to the South Pacific was en route. The only thing original to be seen here is the spa with a built-in snowstorm that sets the scene for a conversation about what constitutes cheating that was neither insightful nor entertaining.
The most irksome thing about COUPLES RETREAT is that Favreau, Vaughn, and Bateman have in the past delivered superb comic performances. In Favreaus case, directing others to them. Here he and Vaughn have written themselves and others parts that are as abysmal as the film itself.