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Couples Retreat (Blu-ray Review)

5 Feb, 2010 By: John Latchem

Street 2/9/10
Box Office $109.1 million
$29.98 DVD, $36.98 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sexual content and language.
Stars Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Jean Reno, Temuera Morrison, Peter Serafinowicz, Carlos Ponce.

I can’t tell what this movie is trying to be.

The cast, tone and marketing suggest a testosterone-fueled guy-movie comedy. The story suggests chick-flick. Maybe it wants to be both. Judging by the setting, my guess is it was a nice excuse for the cast and crew to take a vacation to the South Pacific.

Couples Retreat focuses on four friends and their significant others who shuffle off to an exclusive resort island where a relationship guru (Jean Reno) has set up a couples therapy program. Jason and Cynthia (Jason Batman and Kristen Bell), being on the verge of divorce, are the only ones who want to attend. The rest come along to get a group discount on what they think is a tropical vacation. Instead, the staff insists they attend all the activities, or leave.

There’s also another island devoted to singles, where it’s a party 24/7. That’s where Joey (Jon Favreau) wants to go, having tuned out his own wife (Kristin Davis) long ago.

Stuck in the middle are Dave and Ronnie (Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman), who think their marriage is fine but end up learning a lot about themselves.

The idyllic locale is almost too perfect to be believed, and looks all the more glorious in HD. But this is a movie that tries to have it both ways, giving characters broad traits as a means to set up jokes but then using the caricature as a reason to explain their problems.

Some jokes are funny, but most are just awkward reflections on broken marriages — not exactly a gold mine for comedy. As a result, the movie runs out of steam way too early and just kind of meanders until the filmmakers cut it off. The disc has an alternate ending that serves as an epilogue.

There’s also a commentary with Vaughn, who co-wrote the movie, and director Peter Billingsley ( Ralphie from A Christmas Story, all grown up), though to hear Vaughn talk about the movie you’d think he’s the one who directed it.

Rounding out the extras are some deleted scenes, a gag reel, a featurette about filming in Bora Bora, a segment about the film’s Yoga scene and a hilarious compilation of improv from the actors playing the therapists (Ken Jeong, John Michael Higgins, Charlotte Cornwell and Amy Hill).

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