Thursday, September 23, 2010

“Couple’s Retreat” – A retreat from comedy.

There are a lot of things in this world that are not funny. Power Point presentations, European guys in very small, tight bathing suits, naked black guys, grown men playing Guitar Hero, and Kristin Davis, just to name a few. Do you see where I’m going with this? If not, you are one of the people who contributed to this film grossing more than $169 million. I guess it’s not your fault you were tricked – the previews were kind of funny. Well, maybe it is your fault – they weren’t that funny. Any film containing a member of the cast of “Sex and the City” is almost guaranteed not to make you laugh.

If you ask anyone who saw this film how it was, they will tell you that all of the funny parts were in the previews. This is a continuation of a trend by Hollywood to completely ruin any movie billed as a comedy by a) showing you all of the good jokes in the trailer and b) not including any other jokes in the rest of the film. Genuinely funny movies are becoming so scarce that people still think Will Ferrell movies are funny.

“Couple’s Retreat” was doomed as soon as the movie started. As the opening credits rolled, we were treated to a montage of family pictures and video clips, none of which featured so much as a kid falling off of a trampoline. Five minutes in and we’re already thinking it’s time for a pee break. The film quickly transitions from boring to more boring when we are introduced to the four couples. First, we have Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman), a happy married couple with two boys, a house in the suburbs, and an ongoing argument about redecorating their house. Hilarious! Next are Shane and Trudy (two actors not important enough to name), an older recently-divorced guy newly dating a twenty-something year-old. Funny? Following them are Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Davis), a couple who got married out of high school because Lucy got knocked up, but who basically hate each other’s guts. Not so funny, maybe a little tragic. Finally, there are Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell), a neurotically methodical couple who have failed to conceive children. Almost suicidally depressing now. All of this takes twenty-six minutes to tell us (I know because I couldn’t stop looking at the timer on DVD player), ending with Jason and Cynthia presenting a Power Point presentation in Dave’s basement to the other couples to convince them to co-pay for a trip to a resort called Eden where they hope to save their failing marriage. At this point in time, my choices were to finish the movie or run headfirst into my refrigerator. Unfortunately, I made the wrong decision.

When the couples finally get to Eden, they meet for dinner and begin complaining to Jason and Cynthia that they are going to leave because they want no part of the therapy sessions involved in the retreat. After eating dinner, they decide to suck it up and support Jason and Cynthia. I only bring up this part of the film because it is the most useless part of the entire film. They’ve already agreed to help Jason and Cynthia so why do we have to see them do it again? The only difference between the two scenes is the introduction of the creepy French host who is as funny as a broken neck.

Now, I’m sure that the following events sounded funny when Favreau and Vaughn were writing them together in their old frat room, so let’s do the same and find out. First up – a series of couple’s therapy sessions with psychologists where each couple eventually starts arguing with each other or the psychologist and solve nothing. Next, they go out into the water to look at the fish when some sharks come near. Dave is abandoned by everyone, obtains a small scrape, and must endure several jokes about being a baby. Are you laughing yet or are you dying a little inside?

Then comes the scene that is obviously supposed to be the funniest bit of the movie – the group yoga session with the oily, nearly naked, European yoga instructor. I can’t stand movies that want you to laugh at a person being shit on who does nothing to stand up for himself. For me, this scene is even worse because the guy is practically humping each of the women in front of their husbands. I’m sure “greasy instructor rubs his nuts on Akerman’s vagina” sounded funny after Vaughn and Favreau did their ninth body shots off each other, but I promise it’s not even porn, let alone comedy. And what reaction by the men could possibly turn this into comedy? That’s right – nothing.

At this point, I was no longer able to use my motor functions, so I had to watch two middle-aged guys play Guitar Hero, Favreau getting caught about to masturbate to the bikini clad girl on the cover of the resort brochure, Jean Reno proving that comedy should never be attempted by the French, a bunch of college girls having a three-some on the resort’s fun side, Eden East, and the fat black guy taking his ex-wife back when she inexplicably appears at the resort and informs him that she wants him back now that she’s had sex with a bunch of other guys. Okay, I made up the part about the three-some, but can you blame me?

The saddest part about this travesty is that a third writer is credited, Dana Fox. In addition to this movie, she is also responsible for “The Wedding Date” and “What Happens in Vegas.” I don’t think I need to say anymore about her ability to write comedy, but there was no chance I was going to pin all the blame for this film on Vaughn and Favreau. I think we can all agree that none of these people should be allowed to pick up a pen again.

Rating: Ask for all of your money back. You would never pay to watch a puppy die, would you?

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