Thursday, March 3, 2011

Movie Review: Couples Retreat

This movie was in our Netflix queue and when it came to the house, I was pretty excited to watch it. It's got such a great cast, some of my favorites, and the previews just looked funny and entertaining. I was excited to see the reunion of Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn (I loved, loved, loved Swingers).  In reality, however, this movie just didn't live up to my expectations. Alex liked the movie because it tended to show "real life" (however real that can be in a movie) with couples struggling to cope with everyday tasks like raising a family or trying to conceive. The funny parts just weren't funny enough to me and, to a certain extent the "trying to show real life" was somewhat annoying and pedantic to me. The central couple is Vince Vaughn and Malin Ackerman (who I loved, by the way) and they live in a big old house with a couple kids, but often don't have time to "connect". Vince Vaughn in this role took a little convincing for me because, in my mind, he's not exactly the "family guy" type (but, in the end, I think he pulled it off really well). Their friends,  Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell, are struggling to have a kid and are supposedly on the edge of divorce, although it's not really clear why, since their relationship seems to be working. They are very "matter of fact" with this, telling their friends that, in a last-ditch effort, they are headed to a couples retreat in Bora-Bora (or something like that) and they can only afford it if their friends come along. Of course, there is some hemming and hawing, but the couples all end up at the retreat and hilarity ensues.
Although it doesn't. Jon Favreau turns out to be the biggest jerk in the movie - I'm not sure whether it was his age or his character or the fact that he has a teenage daughter in the movie that creeped me out the most, but I just did not want him and his "wife" to stick together (which is, of course, what happens in the end). Faizon Love was a great character, and probably the funniest of them all. He's clearly going through a mid-life crisis and he brings along his fling for the retreat. The weakest part of the story line with him is that his wife shows up on the island (nothing like a trip to Bora Bora to try to win back your man, right?) and, of course, they end up back together. The movie is clearly about the men. The women seem to be after-thoughts, additions, extras, and they don't really come across as having real feelings or thoughts. The women take a "boys will be boys" attitude, or a "oh, you know my husband" attitude, which, in real life, makes people less accountable for their actions by stereotyping their behavior. Don't get me wrong: I loved the women in the movie, it's just that they don't really speak up or out or take control when the situation calls for it.
I'm not sure what I would have liked this movie to be about. It's clearly about couples struggling to be together, the ins and outs of relationships, and how can you keep things going when life gets in the way, but it wasn't done well. I think some of those issues are just too important to make fun of, maybe? For example, the Ackerman/Vaughn couple figures out that the husband doesn't really do anything around the house to help out and he clearly takes the wife for granted. The couple somewhat joke about it, the husband saying, "Oh, gee, I really hate picking out tile!" They have a big laugh, but nothing is ever really resolved. She wants to head to the waterfall, have a romantic evening, but he throws a fit and won't take her there. She ends up there with her girlfriends, and not really ever resolving the real "issues" that are illustrated in their family. I realize that a silly comedy movie can't address these issues seriously, but I also feel that they could have brought up issues that are funny and used those instead of issues that a lot of people face daily (and might not want to laugh about, unless its done well). Something that comes to mind is the whole "leaving the toilet seat up" - physical comedy of the wife falling in the toilet, having a "let's work this out" session with a therapist, and then the husband finally "gets it". That could have been a funny plot line - something most people can identify with, but not necessarily something that is going to break up a marriage.
In another storyline, Kristin Davis ends up staying with her husband, even though he's a disgusting perv who tries to sexually assault a masseuse. It made me think that the message from the movie is that you're always better off staying with the guy because you'll never be able to get anything better than him. She's an intelligent, beautiful woman, but she's better off staying with the fat slob who can only think about his penis, because they've been married for so long.
Clearly, I've gone off the deep end with this movie review. I was just disappointed by the film. It could have been so much better, with such an awesome cast - it could have portrayed all kinds of modern families in a funny way, with quick, intelligent humor and wit. But it failed miserably at that.

1 comment:

Randi said...

I didn't like this one very much either.
A funny one is Grown Ups.