Movie review: "Couples Retreat"
I hate to inflate the importance of Couples Retreat, but given the talent involved, for some its arrival in theaters could amount to more than just an off night at the movies.
When co-stars and co-writers Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau made the scene with Swingers, their roles hit a nerve with viewers who felt welcome in a world of hipster clubs and believable, everyday guy struggles. Those fans may feel betrayed by their latest; the guys have devolved from characters so money, they didn't even know it, into tired, sitcom-level caricatures.
Vaughn is Dave, a video game salesman who's coerced with wife Ronnie (Malin Akerman) into joining friends Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) at a tropical island retreat for married couples on the rocks. Also along for the trip are Favreau's Neanderthal-like Joey and his wife Lucy (Kristin Davis), and recently separated Shane (Faizon Love) and the 20-year-old he's rebounding with.
Starting from the hot wife-chubby husband dynamic known so well from countless TV comedies, the script keeps the relationships between all characters shallow and generic, conjuring conflict or situational humor out of narrative necessity instead of anything genuine. And Peter Billingsley, making his directorial debut, doesn't offer anything visually to raise the bar.
Only Vaughn distinguishes himself by actually inspiring laughter, but in keeping with the movie's overall laziness, the actor's basically playing the same wise-assed, slightly angry character he's been making a nice living from for years.