Thursday, 15 March 2012

Couples Retreat

Lowdown: The adventures of four couples through their week long stay at a relationship mending resort.
You can tell it is business as usual at Chez Moshe when we watch ourselves a silly American film knowing fully well that we are wasting our time. Yes, the time has come yet again for us to clear our mind using some re-synthesized trash.
Couples Retreat certainly qualifies in this department. It tells the story of four middle aged couples, all of them close friends, who follow the request of one of the couple to join them at a retreat aimed at healing relationships. They all think they’re going to go to a resort, but we know better! Yes, they do end up at a resort; but instead of doing resorty type activities, they are into relationship analysis and building activities, full time.
Thus our four couples have to deal with the demons of their relationships: the seemingly normal couple with kids whose relationship has been forgotten between the pressures of family and paying the mortgage (Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman); the couple whose struggle to conceive is ruining their relationship (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell); the high school sweethearts that cannot stand one another anymore; and the guy whose wife left him and who is seeking compensation through a twenty year old. This twisted setup is made even weirder through the eccentricities of the various resort attendants and their supreme commander (Jean Reno).
Where does all of this lead to? On the positive side, it leads to a film discussing the issues commonly affecting the middle aged: the demands of work, the demands of parenthood, having no time to do anything, and the loss of the spark that was there at the beginning but is now gone when love has to leave the stage for real life. Indeed, credit has to be given to Couples Retreat for dealing with an issue that affects almost every member of Western societies.
That, however, is where the credit stops. In typical fashion for an American film, Couples Retreat has to provide a happy ending even if that happy ending is more forcibly thrown on the film than particles are inside an atomic bomb. This can be forgiven if the comic element of the film worked, but while there is the occasional laugh these laughs are too far apart. By far the worst offender is the casting: while the men appear normal for their age, more or less, the women’s side of the equation is made of models that in no way reflect how the typical middle aged woman looks like, particularly after giving multiple births. Come on, how can Malin Akerman be cast as a typical middle aged mother of two? Where I come from, we call this chauvinism.
Best scene: Vaughn has to duel an attendant “to the death” in Guitar Hero in order for the couples to be reunited. I suspect the producers did not anticipate the demise of the Guitar Hero franchise that shortly followed the release of their film.
Overall: Typical Hollywood mildly entertaining trash. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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