Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Couples Retreat" (2009) - Movie Review

The troubled couples in the “Couples Retreat” begin as someone to be laughed at, then with and the lines are murky on whether to feel sorry for them or plainly be ready for them to be the centre of laughter within the first twenty minutes into the film. Then they are turned as comedy instruments, ineffectively of course and after that there is no limitation on the stretches of the elliptical route in the name of comedy this film spirals down to. Peter Billingsley the director struggles a bit and a lot as his film cannot take a stand on this miserable pairs.

There is generally a level of spite when it comes to the film proclaiming proudly of its formulaic flow and stereotypic characters it assemble in the reviews. That they are and their inability to hide their shyness is an honesty I can appreciate while not acknowledge to the fullest. But if there is a film which got some characters who give a semblance of possibility into becoming faint images of dimensional flesh and blood while pouring it into the wastelands of compromise and succumbing to the formula, that achieves greater rage in me. “Couples Retreat” is one such.

There is Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman), the husband and wife lost in the upbringing of kids and buried in the careers and house improvements. They are the early college kids who were in so love with each other to get married before they could see the calamities of their student loans. They are responsible of their acts and have sacrificed vacations and are in the stages of life where the acceptance of it has numbed the fun and love they planned and used to have. “We make it through in the end” says Ronnie to a psychiatrist when they land in this surprise island of vacation hiding under the sands. They are characters, not funny clay modeled molds in a dummy screenplay. They come through with a realization which is unfulfilled and hazy than to see the real sane couple they have been.

Another is Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) who are intensely preparing a presentation for their friends. They qualify as the Amway couple ready to sell and market the heck out of the stuff they are preparing. While we expect to be one such comedy piece to know what kind of personalities they are, we are stunned by their presentation. They begin by saying that they are planning a divorce and show the progress of their marriage in a bar chart and the progression of their post divorce mate finding in another chart. They psychoanalyze the procedure and the effort to be wasted and it all makes sense. We are in a generation of slide shows which are filled with pages of texts no one cares about. We need bullet points as they say but these couple want to give a final shot in their matrimony which brings them to the island with series of couples therapy. They are another fresh characters who become this display of obvious problems and in the end settle up for a drunken sex truce.

Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) are exhausted of each other but is wonderful as a team with their teenage daughter. Their high school pregnancy has resulted in a marriage robbing the party times. Now with the daughter ready to be out of the door, they are left with each other all set to hate. Both cannot wait to cheat on each other but has not crossed the bridge yet. This becomes their running gag and the film becomes their pathway for their disappointments and awkwardness been cheered on for some laughs we never want to. Finally is Shane (Faizon Love), a big man coming out of a divorce and tagging a young girl (Kali Hawk) with whom he cannot compete.

All these people are real and their problems appear to be serious but “Couples Retreat” does not see them with a consistent perspective. They shadow and shine on those with great uncertainty. And there is confidence leaking out when this steps in couples session going nowhere and the final place where every one meets and everything happens at once. “Couples Retreat” had some few good laughs and few good convincing scenes but more than that it had plausible people with very real problems. They are made jokers but we are not able to laugh at them.

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