Couples Retreat boasts a large cast of lovable stars and a dazzling setting, as well as some promising premises for each couple, but the hasty, oversimplified resolutions cast a “meh” over the entire movie.
The couple that fare the best are Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman’s Dave and Ronnie, an ordinary couple with job, kids, and home renovations to deal with each day. Their storyline is simple, but it feels realistic, and the chemistry is good. Akerman shines in comedies (she was terrible in Watchmen), and she is very likable here.
The rest of the couples have realistic problems but, unfortunately, totally unrealistic resolutions. It’s a toss-up whose happy ending is more ludicrous: Joey and Lucy’s (Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis), who literally go from declaring their mutual infidelities to making out in the space of 60 seconds, or Shane’s (Faizon Love), whose ex-wife appears in the movie’s climax (at a remote and very expensive island resort, mind you), declaring that she’s had her fill of other men and is now ready to return to her true love. He takes her back, of course. Deus ex-wife machina, indeed.
I haven’t even yet mentioned the typical Hollywood beautiful-wife/schlubby-hubby pairings. Jason Bateman is the most attractive of the husbands, but even then, he’s paired with 29-year-old Kristen Bell. Don’t get me wrong — I will love Michael Bluth and Veronica Mars forever, but let’s just put it this way: When all the so-called old married couples go to the swinging singles club on Eden East in the climax, K-Bell does not look at all out of place. Put another away: Michael Cera once guest-starred on Veronica Mars as a college freshman giving a campus tour to high school senior Veronica (Bell). Cera, of course, played Bateman’s son on Arrested Development. And now Bell’s character is married to Bateman’s. I believe KB can play almost any character, and her acting is no problem here, but for once I’d rather see Jennifer Aniston in a movie than Kristen Bell. Aniston would be the right age match for Bateman and would better embody the anal-retentive, slightly pretentious wife struggling to conceive.