Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, John Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Kristin Bell, Jean Reno
Director: Peter Billingsley
Writer(s): Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox
Cinematography: Eric Edwards
Original Score: A. R. Rahman
Running Time: 113 Mins.
Cast your minds back if you will to the early 90’s, two young men wrote and starred in a very funny film going by the name of Swingers, helping usher in the now abundant indie film scene its driving force, Vaughn and Favreau, were clearly destined for great things, things they achieved. Vaughan went on to find his biggest break in Weddng Crashers and earnt himself a place in Will Ferrell’s Frat Pack while Favreau turned out to be a rather great director helming Iron Man and its fast approaching sequel, not only helping reinvigorate the superhero genre but Robert Downey Jr’ career, and for that alone he deserves great applause!
So how my heart sank when I watched Couples Retreat, Vaughn and Favreau have appeared together many times and their interplay is never anything less than entertaining, despite how weak the film, The Break-Up being a prime example but here they really are scraping the barrel, and the saddest part is they actually put pen to paper to write the script, which means unfortunately there is no passing the blame.
The basic premise for Couples Retreat is as follows, four couples (made up of various low key, and some up-and-coming, actors and actresses) decide to partake in a trip to “paradise” when one of the couples decides they need to attend a relationship rebuilding trip, upon arriving on said paradise island all couples are forced into the “couple therapy” exercises and (shock horror) discover that there relationships aren’t so perfect after all, and guess what they all have a happy ending.
Which is where the film’s main (and there are many) problem lies, written as it is by Favreau and Vaughn, this should have been ground ripe for a proper grown up acidic comedy, full of proper observational comedy about how realtionships can go sour, wreaking some great black humour from it. But alas the film has been neutered down so far that when anything approaching slightly witty or funny seems about to happen, it is shot down with either a deeply lame joke involving tight speedos or worse still some of the sappiest, most cringe inducing lovey-dovey schtick seen in quite some time.
In fact the last time I saw a film with this level of unbearable cheese it was Four Christmases (where, once again, we had Vaughn and Favreau on-screen together as the only mild positive in an otherwise awful film).Quite frankly given the credential’s of the cast you have every right to expect something more, Bateman is usually a mark of quality even in the weakest of films and Akerman and Bell have both shown some great promise in their past roles, though the fact that the once great Jean Reno appears as relationship guru should have really given the game away given his last film was The Pink Panther 2!
As it trundles to its close you could play join the dots with the plot, but just when you think it can’t get any more cringe-worthy…it does.
And that pretty sums the experience of Couples Retreat up, annoying characters and a script that could have been written by monkeys, the only positive I could gleam from the whole experience was seeing Vaughn and Favreau together again but even that is becoming stale fast.
The byword for comic quality that once was Vaughn and Favreau feels long-gone, though their banter still retains a little humour it is lost amidst the rest of the awful dialogue and a setup seemingly good for one thing, cringe-worthycheese!