Couples Retreat: It May Be Paradise But It’s No Picnic (2009)

Posted: July 16, 2011 in Comedy

A set of four couples have been friends for some time, but when Jason and Cynthia announce their struggles in their marriage, they convince the rest of the group to head to the tropics for a couples retreat. When the other couples arrive on the island, their intention of splitting off to have fun is ruined as the managers of the retreat explain the inflexible arrangement. Unless the group completes all of the retreat activities, they will fail the course and be asked to leave the island without a refund. The couples embark on a series of activities, ranging from visioning to therapy to yoga, which cause the other relationships to slowly unravel. Shane’s girlfriend, who filled in for his ex-wife, goes missing and the rest of the group develops a plan to find her on the singles side of the island but have to make it back to the retreat before sunrise or forfeit their progress.

Starring: Vince Vaughn (Dave), Jason Bateman (Jason Smith), Faizon Love (Shane), Jon Favreau (Joey), Malin Akerman (Ronnie), Kristen Bell (Cynthia), Kristin Davis (Lucy), Kali Hawk (Trudy), Tasha Smith (Jennifer), Carlos Ponce (Salvadore), Peter Serafinowicz (Sctanley), Jean Reno (Marcel), Temuera Morrison (Briggs)

As a way to show the challenges of relationships, Peter Billingsley assembled a group of experienced comedic actors to highlight the dissonances that develop over time. Without going into each of the characters, it is easy to tell that each one plays to their general strengths from their other comedy films. Vince Vaughn and Jason Bateman take the center stage, with Vaughn playing to his jerk-like persona from other starring roles such as The Breakup and Anchorman and Bateman serving his traditional timid and calculated presence like with Hancock and Horrible Bosses. Jean Reno seems to have a great time a the guru, taking his other more serious personas and adapting them for a serious comedic one.

The struggles of relationships are clearly the highlight of the movie, with each couple experiencing traditional challenges that all take one thing (communication) to find resolution. Shane’s challenges revolve around chasing someone whose personality excites him but does not match who he needs. Joey and Lucy exhibit natural problems with high school sweethearts. Though their relationship developed somewhat out of necessity with an unplanned pregnancy, they had many qualities that they truly appreciated in each other but took for granted when they stopped talking. Jason and Cynthia have a completely different way of looking at their relationship. Jason expresses love through logic while Cynthia desires to feel excitement and passion again. While Dave and Ronnie are the reason everyone ends up at the retreat, their relationship is simply an issue of taking each other for granted. Their focus in their own lives and problems has taken the space for their opportunity to enjoy their time together. There are thousands of challenges that can drive a wedge between two people but open and honest dialogue and communication can be more than even a strong foundation to propel a couple to have a meaningful and long-lasting relationship.

There are far fewer laugh-out-loud moments in this film and the relationships seem to be extreme versions of natural issues (most likely to make a point). It can be enjoyable but will definitely not impress.

Dan’s Rating: 2.5/5

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