If it weren't for the memory of how fresh and joyful their 1996 film Swingers was, the Jon Favreau–Vince Vaughn comedy Couples Retreat might seem like any other broad, dumb movie—the kind Ben Stiller churns out with alarming regularity—with a sizable budget; a gorgeous location; funny dudes; pretty, bikini-ready women; and plenty of sex jokes. Not great but not terrible. But this movie, which plays out like the fulfillment of the Swingers dudes' worst nightmares, is just sad.We have yet to see the flick—it opens today, October 9th—but judging from the trailer, we got the impression Couples Retreat was pretty much as Pols described it, in so far as those lame Ben Stiller movies are concerned. The Swingers comparison was a nice touch, if a bit superfluous, in our opinion.
It's about four couples who go to Eden, a luxury tropical resort that features couples counseling along with its crystalline waters and multiple hot tubs...So off everyone goes to Bora Bora with the expectation that the feelings talk is optional. Instead, they are forced into having their relationships analyzed by the resident guru...and a team of therapists...
Couples Retreat was co-written by Vaughn and Favreau, with an assist from Dana Fox, and it has the choppiness you'd expect from too many cooks in the kitchen (in contrast, Favreau was the only screenwriter on Swingers). I'm fine with the original Trent ("money") and Mike (not "money," no matter what Trent said) moving to the suburbs, having kids, getting fat and spending weekends at Home Depot and Applebee's. These things happen. What's depressing is that there's hardly a creative spark in this sour, offensive, contrived story, and its sloppiness is more consistent than its comedy.
What is going on with this rash of increasingly formulaic comedies? And speaking of Stiller, wasn't he supposed to be some sort of comedic bright light once upon a time? It seems like these guys start off with promising independent work so that Hollywood can let them make dreck. Not a winning formula, for sure.