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"Couples Retreat"

Directed by Peter Billingsley.
Written by Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn and Dana Fox.
Starring Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love and Jon Favreau.
Release Year:  2009
Review Date:  10/30/09


After "The Break-Up", "Four Christmases" and now "Couples Retreat", I need to just face the facts coming into it--Vince Vaughn and romantic comedies are clearly not a good fit.

This time around, Vaughn plays a happily married guy living in Chicago with his wife Ronnie (Malin Akerman) near three other good friends in relationships: there's anal/analytical Jason (Jason Bateman), who's considering divorce from his long-time wife Cynthia (Kristen Bell); former jock Joey (Jon Favreau), who's just waiting for his daughter to go to college before divorcing his wife Lucy (Kristin Davis); and recent divorcé Shane (Faizon Love), who's now a few weeks into a fling with a 20-something named Trudy (Kali Hawk).  Jason and Cynthia have come up with an idea to help their ailing marriage, but it requires four couples--a trip to a beach resort that doubles as a counseling session.  When all four couples make the trip, who will end up together when the smoke clears?

Who gives a shit?

Wanting a good laugh, I went to see "Couples Retreat" on a mandate with my friend Ross because we quietly hoped that maybe, just maybe, Vaughn could give me something funny outside of the movie's trailer.  For the most part, he and his good friend Favreau could not.  I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why Vaughn's charisma matched with scripted one-liners can't lift these lifeless romantic projects; in Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and now co-stars like Kristin Davis (all proven comedic actresses), Vaughn can't really blame the talent surrounding him, so I just have to believe that in this life, some things aren't meant to be.

Further, as unfunny as Vaughn is in "Couples Retreat", other normally reliable sources don't deliver; Bateman wasn't funny in this movie or his last appearance in "Extract"...Jean Reno, always one of my favorites, doesn't do much good work here...even bit players like John Michael Higgins (who had the only laughs in "The Break-Up" and is a regular in Christopher Guest flicks) and Ken Jeong (the Asian guy showing up in things like "The Hangover" and "Role Models") can't make their scenes shine either.

I did chuckle here and there; certainly, the guy that played the resort's host, Sctanley (Peter Serafinowicz), got me laughing and Love wasn't bad...but, sadly, there were no great money shots in "Couples Retreat" and not any real reasons to invest in watching the film when it begins its regular rotation on TNT HD.  This was better for me to make the firm decision to never see another Vaughn rom-com...jeez, this was ungood.

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 10/30/09