Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Couples Retreat

posted by Nell Minow
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 on appeal for sexual content and language
Profanity:Strong and crude language
Nudity/Sex:Explicit sexual references and non-explicit situations, very skimpy clothing, sexual and potty humor
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking
Violence/Scariness:Tense family situations
Diversity Issues:Diverse characters
Movie Release Date:October 9, 2009
DVD Release Date:February 9, 2010

I’m guessing that what happened here is that BFFs Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man but here as an actor), Vince Vaughn, and Peter Billingsley (star of A Christmas Story-turned director) decided that it would be a lot of fun to go off to a beautiful island together and so they decided to make it a business trip by creating a story they could film there.

And I am guessing that their home movie of that trip would have been more entertaining than this dull, drawn-out, mess of a film about four couples who go to a resort that is somewhere between “Fantasy Island” and “Dr. Phil.”

These are the kinds of couples with a friendship you only see in movies. They have nothing in common. They do not particularly seem to like each other. They do not appear to know anyone else. And yet, they are always up in each other’s bidness, hugely involved in the tiniest details and decisions, far more than in their own, so much so that they are constantly conference-calling each other on their cell phones, inviting each other to make crucial decisions about their lives. Possibly the hardest to believe, they are not only mandatory attendees at a birthday party held for a very young child of one of the couples, they all wander off in the middle of the party, including the child’s parents, for a power point presentation on one couple’s marital breakdown (apparently a welcome relief following a previous series on the husband’s testicular cancer). The couple (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell) have arranged for a group rate at a resort and guilt everyone to going along with them: the couple who are distracted with young children (Vaughn and “Watchmen’s” Malin Akerman), the couple who are furious with each other (Favreau and “Sex in the City’s” Kristin Davis), and the recently separated Shane (Faizon Love) with his new 20-year-old girlfriend (Kali Hawk) who calls him “Daddy” and wants to party all the time.

While the other couples planned to relax and enjoy the island, it turns out that the couples counseling is mandatory, starting at sunrise — sort of Dr. Phil boot camp. There is much attempted hilarity from a scantily-clad male yoga instructor getting very up close and personal with both the men and women (a lot of homosexual and adultery panic in this movie) as he demonstrates the poses. There is much attempted hilarity from the counseling sessions and from a child twice confusing a store display with a working toilet. None actually occurs.

Individual scenes drag and the movie as a whole sags. Episodes are thrown together haphazardly and run on forever. There are innumerable references, for some reason, to Applebee’s and there is an extended and pointless, even by the low standards of this film, excruciatingly drawn out game of Guitar Hero. And we are supposed to care about these people and believe that they have actually learned some important lessons about communication and not taking each other for granted. It fails at comedy, it fails at warming our hearts and it fails at making us care enough about any of these characters to want them to work out their problems. Instead, we just keep wishing they would get out of the way and let us enjoy the pretty scenery.



  • Andy

    There’s an old rule that tells us that if the trailer is bad, the movie can’t be good– a bad movie might have a good trailer, but if you can’t even put together a decent trailer…
    I sat through the trailer for this movie two times, in disbelief. Forced, cliched, boring, obvious, even offensive. Wow. I was never going to see this, but I’m glad to see I was missing nothing.

  • Brieanne

    I appreciate this review. My hubby wants to see this movie, and I’m not big on these idiotic comedies, but it’s what he’s into. I guess there will be those who enjoy shallow entertainment and those who want more out of a story than dirty humor and sex. I’m still hoping I can somehow convince him to see something else. Great review.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Brieanne. I think this is one of those movies that feels like a comedy — it has the humiliating situations and the wisecracky rhythms — but it is not actually funny. Dirty humor and sex can be entertaining, or they can just disguise the fact that there is no genuine entertainment there at all, and this is one of those movies. Good luck, and if you do see this one, let me know what you think!

  • Beekay

    Or you have no humor at all. Small minds…
    I just saw it, and thought it was hilarious.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks for the comment, Beekay. Just a reminder, however — we welcome disagreement, but do not permit insult. And comments are much more useful if you can provide some more information. I am always glad when someone sees more in a movie than I do, but you can’t illuminate your point of view by telling us more about what you found funny.

  • brittni

    i really liked the movie. sometimes you have to see a movie like this and just laugh at the dirty jokes and sex. the people that dont want to see the movie because its not good for the kiddo’s thats what DATE NIGHT is for. of course don’t let your 8 year old watch it. i wouldnt let my kids see inglorious basterds but it was the best movie i have ever seen. if you aren’t willing to laugh about corny stuff, then you probably need to stop being so serious and take the stick out of your butt

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Brittni, I’m always glad to hear from anyone who enjoys a movie. If you read my review, you’ll see that my problems with the film had nothing to do with its appropriateness for children. I always evaluate movies in the context of their intended audience. But even for those who just want to laugh at silly humor, I found this movie to be slack and disappointing, a waste of its talented performers.
    Just a reminder, Brittni — insult is not argument, and you undermine your point by making it seem as though the only people who find this movie funny are those who are rude and disrespectful. I’m sure you will do better next time. I hope to hear from you again soon.

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