There were several shocks that came about while watching the latest collaboration between BFFs Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. One was that I did not hate it as much as I thought I would (I will qualify that statement later) and that the cute little guy (I don't know if he is cute anymore and he most certainly isn't little anymore) from the classic 1983 Christmas film "A Christmas Story" is the director. It's amazing what you can learn at the movies! And they say it isn't educational!
Alert! Here is the qualification part: I have totally lost all faith in comedy films. I cannot remember the last one that I actually liked (Well, I guess I liked "Superbad", but let's move on). As a genre it seems (kinda like horror) that the lowest common denominator has taken over and doesn't seem to be giving it back. Crass, male oriented films without much of a brain are what seem to pass for comedies nowadays and I for one am putting my foot down and saying "I won't stand for it anymore!"
All that preamble being said I went into the film with low expectations. Despite the fact that I like Jon Favreau and (used to) Vince Vaughn I wasn't expecting much from "Couples Retreat" especially after seeing the previews (again and again). Surprisingly enough and despite myself I found some chuckles coming out of me. Now I won't go so far as to say that it is the best comedy since any of the Monty Python films, but it has its moments.
Its moments tended to come from scenes between Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau more often than not. The two men wrote the script, so in parts it really features that good onscreen rapport they have built up over the years. They play well off each other. Each takes the turn being the more responsible one (in this film it's Vaughn) and the other is pretty much a loser (that would be Favreau). But the moments that made me laugh did not happen with enough regularity to completely save the film. And that is too bad because the potential was there.
The other side of the coin is that I went to the film with someone and she had been looking forward to seeing it and was disappointed. Seems it wasn't as funny as she thought. (Don't look through the review for you name, Joanne, that's embarrassing!) So it seems your whole enjoyment of the film hinges greatly on your expectations going in.
The story really isn't even worth discussing because it is used just as set up for the gags and moments of humour in the film. Suffice it to say it is about four sets of couples that are involved in marriages that are all in different states. The couple (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell) who suggest the vacation and build it up as a tropical paradise convince the other three couples (Vince Vaughn and Malin Ackerman, Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis, Faizon Love and Kali Hawk) to come with them so they can get a better rate. They do briefly mention that it is a resort where couples can work on their marriages and lay on the guilt thick that they are thinking of getting a divorce, so really need to go. What kind of friend could say no to that?
Once there it is not exactly what any of them had in mind in that it is not all about eating, drinking and jet skiing; it actually is a resort that makes you do couple therapy. At 6:00 in the morning!!! Of course chaos ensues betwixt the couples, several of the marriages look to be in jeopardy, some laughs as a result, (but an equal amount of cringes), but of course they all end up together in the end. Blah, blah, blah. Told you it wasn't worth discussing.
So the moral of the review of this film is if you go in with low to no expectations you might find yourself mildly amused, but if you think you are going to have plenty of belly laughs then you will be disappointed. Count yourself warned!