Hollywood Product: Couples Retreat
Swingers' Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn co-write a limp comedy
GENRE: Frat-pack vacation
THE PITCH: Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell play spouses contemplating divorce who convince three couples to join them at a tropical resort that requires a mandatory “skill-building” session. Other pairs include Vince Vaughn and Watchmen’s Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau and “Sex and the City’s” Kristin Davis, and Faizon Love and Kali Hawk.
MONEY SHOTS: Bateman and Bell pitch their friends the trip idea with a Power Point presentation that enumerates their marital problems. A bucket of chum splashes Vaughn in shark-infested waters. A barely clad Adonis (Carlos Ponce) practically humps the characters — male and female — during a yoga lesson. Vaughn has a video game showdown with the resort’s supercilious major domo, “Sctanley” (Peter Serafinowicz).
CREEPIEST JOKE: “I’m not saying he should tickle your balls, just move him when he falls asleep,” Bateman suggests upon learning that Vaughn and Akerman’s young son sleeps in their bed, impeding their sex life.
CREEPIEST JARGON: “You’re really deprioritizing your teammate,” a couples counselor tells Vaughn, who plays a workaholic. That would be casting against type.
FLESH FACTOR: Not surprisingly, swimsuits and towels provide the wardrobe for long stretches of the film. Ponce’s yoga teacher and Jean Reno’s amusing island guru wear look-away Speedos. Both couples skip down to their skivvies in one exercise, but Love’s lack of “drawers” results in a buffalo shot. Incidentally, the latter scene sums up Hollywood’s double-standard of attractiveness in a nutshell: The male bodies range from average to doughy to rotund, while the women all have smokin’ bods.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: The film could be a promotional video for the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort. Vaughn’s character has vague connections to the Guitar Hero game, which provides a subsequent plot point. Characters conspicuously eat Froot Loops and drink Budweiser. There’s a funny throwaway reference to the island’s “abandoned Starbucks,” while Applebee’s provides a metaphor for companionship.
TRAILER DISCREPANCY: The official trailer shows Favreau and Davis cheating on one another, but the final cut suggests that their eyes may have wandered, but none of their other body parts have.
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE: A running joke involves the resort's “sister island” for swinging singles, and when we see it, it’s populated by no one who looks older than 30. So where do these twentysomething hotties get the money? In real life, Eden East would be overrun with divorced people no younger than 40.
THE BOTTOM LINE: How would you like to subsidize Vaughn and Favreau’s vacation? The Swingers co-stars picked a great tourist spot and some attractive and/or likable buddies, but seem to have lost their luggage with the funny lines and relationship insights. Serafinowicz, Reno, and Ponce provide amusing support (Ponce resembles Hank Azaria with one of those 300 bodies), but Couples Retreat’s drawn-out running time feels more like being stuck on the tarmac rather than making a getaway.