PCR past banners
Now in our tenth calendar year!
PCR #498 (Vol. 10, No. 41). This edition is for the week of October 5--11, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Couples Retreat"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"Couples Retreat"  by Mike Smith
Retroween: A Collection of Characters  by ED Tucker
Memoirs of an Otaku Part 2: Life in Japan  by Jason Fetters
Kill The Dollar .... Taxing The Benefits .... Running To Stand Still .... Harry Makes Me Uncomforable Too .... Ftc: Fine The Bloggers .... Internet Filtering? .... ....  by Brandon Jones
Braylon Edwards A Jet .... Rush Limbaugh Wants To Buy The Rams .... 0-4. Walk The Plank .... D-nabb Good To Go .... Kickoff! .... .... ....  by Chris Munger
My Trip Up North .... Don't Say I Didn't Warn You .... Told You It Wasn't About Drugs .... Big Apple Bound .... Catching Up .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2009
Archives 2008
Archives 2007
Archives 2006
Archives 2005
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman and Jean Reno
Directed by: Peter Billingsley
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 53 mins

Sometimes it’s nice to hang out with your friends. I’m sure it’s even nicer to hang out with your friends in Hollywood. Back in the 60s, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and the rest of the “Rat Pack” used to hang out. And in between nightclub shows, poker games and Marilyn Monroe they’d make movies, “Ocean’s Eleven” being the best of them. Almost five decades later, friends and movies are still going strong, courtesy of Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Peter Billingsley with “Couples Retreat.”

This is the story of four very different couples. Dave and Ronnie (Vaughn and Malik Akerman) seem to be happy, though life is hectic with 10 hour work days, two kids and remodeling a house. Joey and Lucy (Favreau and Kristin Davis) are just going through the motions, waiting until their college age daughter leaves for Stanford before the inevitable. Jason and Cynthia (Bateman and Kristin Bell) are trying for a child with no success. And then there’s Shane and Trudy (Faizon Love and Kali Hawk). Shane is recently divorced and dating the much younger Trudy, who makes him uncomfortable by constantly calling him “Daddy.” When Jason and Cynthia suggest a week long getaway to an exotic locale, not clearly explaining it as a trip to rekindle their marriage, the others agree. And so begins the rather hit and miss “Couples Retreat.”

Though their careers are growing increasingly different, Vaughn and Favreau will always be linked thanks to the film “Swingers,” which Favreau also wrote. They teamed up again in “Made” (also written by Favreau). While Favreau began to concentrate on directing (“Elf,” “Iron Man”) Vaughn also began writing, beginning with “The Break Up.” Now the two friends have teamed up and, along with “Wedding Date” author Dana Fox, have crafted a story that seems to only exist so that the stars got to spend months filming in Pago Pago. Aside from the stereotypical couples, the film contains all of the standard situations you’d expect: the too old Shane trying his best to keep up with Trudy, the over anxious Joey trying too hard to get to the other (read single) side of the island while his neglected wife tries her best to seduce the overly-handsome yoga instructor. It’s not that the laughs aren’t there, it’s just that they’re telegraphed. The only characters that feel original here are the staff of the resort, among them Reno as the self proclaimed “Couple Whisperer” and John Michael Higgins and “The Hangover’s” Ken Jeong as therapists. On a more positive note, the photography is outstanding and more than one couple (my wife and I included) waited around for the credits to see where the film was filmed. Director Billingsley, who once starred with Vaughn in a CBS School Break Special about the perils of steroids, is fine in his debut film, though as mentioned above the pacing could be a little better. For you trivia buffs out there, Billingsley also played Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” so it’s nice to know that he’s still working.

On a scale of zero to four I give “Couples Retreat”

This week's movie review of "Couples Retreat" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.