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Rated 3.16 stars
by 276 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Last Resort
by Betty Jo Tucker

The secret to a happy marriage involves falling in love over and over again -- with the same person. Couples Retreat, a comedy about four couples who have relationship problems, offers an amusing illustration of that old saying. Although predictable and silly at times, the movie held my interest and put a big smile on my face while watching most of it, probably because of excellent performances by its talented ensemble cast, which includes Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love, Kali Hauk, Jean Reno, Carlos Ponce, and Peter Serofinowizc.     

At the beginning of the film, only one of the four couples admits the need for counseling. Jason (Bateman) and Cynthia (Bell) want professional help before deciding whether or not to get a divorce. They have found the perfect place, a resort called Eden, where relationship therapy is available in a vacation paradise setting. However, they need three other couples to go along with them in order to get a “group rate,” the only package they can afford. It takes a bit of aggressive persuading to recruit their friends, but they succeed. Only after arriving at Eden do the other couples discover they also have to meet with a therapist. And, guess what? Their sessions reveal problems perhaps even more severe than those of Jason and Cynthia.

Dave (Vaughn) and Ronnie (Akerman) think of their marriage as “something to work through.” Joey (Favreau) and Lucy (Davis) barely look at each other anymore. Shane (Love) and Trudy (Hauk) face significant challenges relating to their age difference.  Before the movie ends, each couple must make changes if they really want to “live happily ever after.” As in real life, not everyone can do this.       

While interactions with the counseling staff evoke plenty of chuckles here, most of the laughs come during other activities at Eden. For example, bizarre yoga exercises are overseen by buffed-up ladies’ man Salvadore (Ponce) plus the oh-so regal Marcel (Reno) supervises weird assignments such as fish –throwing. And, oh yes, pompous Eden guide Stanley (Serofinowizc) explains all the rules -- continuously -- with an officious and sadistic flair. Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you about the movie’s silliness.

Still, Couples Retreat reminds us of how important good communication is in building and maintaining a healthy relationship. Directed by Peter Billingsley (Ralphie in A Christmas Story), the film moves along with a spirited pace. Although the script by Favreau (Swingers) and Vaughn (The Break-Up) is a bit talky and includes some out-of-place potty humor, most of the dialogue comes across as witty and entertaining. And the location scenery provides a feast for the eyes.

Aimed more at adults than teenage boys and their dates, Couples Retreat is a lot better than the previews would have you believe. I saw this film only because I had to review it. No wonder I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed it.        

(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “PG-13” on appeal for sexual content and language.)

For more information about this film, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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