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Four Midwestern couples embark on a journey to a tropical island resort. While one of the couples is there to work on their marriage, the other three set out to jet ski, spa and enjoy some fun in the sun. They soon discover that participation in the resort's couples therapy is not optional. Suddenly, their group-rate vacation comes at a price. What follows is a hilarious look at real world problems faced by all couple
For more about Couples Retreat and the Couples Retreat Blu-ray release, see Couples Retreat Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 11, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau
Director: Peter Billingsley
» See full cast & crew
Couples Retreat Blu-ray Review
A few solid laughs are all that save this cumbersome comedy from flat-lining...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, February 11, 2010
Vince Vaughn, the snarky, rapidfire funnyman of Swingers, Old School, Made, Wedding Crashers, and Dodgeball fame; his furrowed browed master-at-arms and comedic partner-in-crime, Jon Favreau; Jason Bateman, the oft-overlooked genius who injected a healthy dose of unassuming normalcy into Mitchell Hurwitz's brilliant Arrested Development and deadpan smarminess to Jason Reitman's Oscar-nominated Up in the Air; Kristen Bell, the snappy young actress who made Veronica Mars one of the most disarming, surprising, and infectious television series of the decade (its untimely third-season cancellation still stings); Malin Akerman, hot off the success of Watchmen; Jean Reno, The Professional himself; Kristin Davis, one of Sex and the City's most indispensable mainstays; not to mention a hilarious lineup of character actors including Faizon Love, The Hangover's Ken Jeong, John Michael Higgins, Carlos Ponce, and Peter Serafinowicz. So many smart comedians, so many talented actors, a script penned by Vaughn and Favreau... it all begs the question: how could Couples Retreat be such an unwieldy, uninspired, disjointed bore?
The first signs of trouble accompany the film's labored, overwrought opening; a two-and-a-half-mile-per-hour first act that spends far, far too much time getting Vaughn and Favreau's strained couples -- just-gettin-by parents of two, Dave and Ronnie (Vaughn and Akerman); hot-blooded cheaters, Joey and Lucy (Favreau and Davis); analytical worriers, Jason and Cynthia (Bateman and Bell); and unmarried odd-couple, Shane and Trudy (Love and Kali Hawk) -- to an island resort designed to repair relationships in crisis. But rather than introduce four squabbling couples who agree to sample a therapeutic getaway, we're forced to sit through a plodding, uneventful setup in which Jason and Cynthia have to con their friends into joining them on their excursion. Sadly, even when they finally reach their destination, it takes further arm-twisting to get six of the eight to submit themselves to the film's first, and arguably best, bit of genuine comedy: a montage of all-too-brief therapy sessions. Elsewhere, Reno is nearly wasted as the resort's love guru, a character that would have been more entertaining were he a crackpot or a scam artist. Paper-thin villains (an arrogant program coordinator and a creepy yoga instructor among them) dot the increasingly cynical battlefield, but rarely get the opportunity to pop their claws. And the plot itself is comprised of contrived comedy sketches -- Everyone has to strip on the beach! Temptation arises during dual massages! Swimming with sharks goes horribly awry! The girls get drunk! The boys have a Guitar Hero face-off! -- that blot out the story. Thus the truncated plot synopsis.
The performances are all over the place too. Vaughn, Favreau, and Bateman make the most of their scenes, but Akerman, Davis, and Bell are given next to nothing to do (save react to the men in their characters' lives), and do very little with what they're afforded. Akerman stares and whines her way through an underdeveloped role an actress like Kristen Wiig or Jennifer Aniston would have made their own. Davis plays against type, but it's an ugly, unsightly type that fails to warrant empathy of any kind. And Bell's piercing wit and patented line delivery are squandered in a role that doesn't require either. I had a difficult time believing each relationship had survived as long as it had, much less that couples as disparate as these would actually enjoy each other's company. Yes, there are laughs to be had -- Higgins and Jeong elevate the entire film in just ten short minutes ("you definitely don't pull a hypothetical gun on your therapist!"), Ponce and Serafinowicz have two great standoffs with Favreau and Vaughn, Reno employs enough ham and cheese to earn his share of grins, and Vaughn spits out a number of memorable verbal jabs ("take the French out of your mouth and tell me what to do!") -- but millennia seem to pass between each one. I dig comedies that slap me silly, going in for the kill even though I'm already on the ground. Couples Retreat would lure me in with a chuckle, but ask me to wait around for a few minutes while it geared up for its next gag.
As is the case with almost every comedy, there is an audience out there for Couples Retreat. I despised Vaughn and director Seth Gordon's Four Christmases, but was quickly admonished by a good friend who adored it. His take? "If you came from a dysfunctional family, Ken, you would have laughed your ass off." There are those of you who will say the same of Couples Retreat. Maybe if my marriage was crumbling, I'd relate to Dave and his friends. Maybe if I was fighting to hold onto something I once held dear, I would have warmed up to the film's oh-so-sentimental third act. But comedy is in the gut of the one laughing, not in the scowl of the one shaking his head. If you couldn't breathe while watching Four Christmases, chances are Couples Retreat will leave you in stitches. If you consider Vaughn worthy of bearing your man-babies, you'll probably forgive director Peter Billingsley's missteps and the cast's at-times overbearing antics. If you find yourself relating to the characters and their struggles, chances are you'll warm to the four couples' misadventures in fear and loathing. Suffice to say, renting is the best course of action.
Couples Retreat Blu-ray, Video Quality
Couples Retreat seeks solace on Blu-ray with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer; one that only falters when the Bora Bora sun sets and night descends. Eric Edwards' sweltering island palette is ripe with bold primaries, deep blacks, and bronzed but lifelike skintones; his neon-lit beach parties and therapeutic encounters look fantastic; and his sand-swept locales are brimming with brilliant blues and rich seascape greens. Contrast remains strong and stable throughout, and depth is commendable. However, a pair of murky, midnight jungle excursions and a dimly lit cabana showdown suffer from detail-sapping shadows and poor delineation. These shots never become a serious issue -- particularly since the image itself doesn't struggle with artifacting, unintentional noise, aliasing, smearing, crush, or other digital nonsense -- but they do represent a low point in an otherwise impressive presentation. Even so, fine textures are crisp and refined, closeups feature plenty of detail, and edge definition, though undermined by a bit of slight ringing, is sharp and satisfying. All things considered, Universal's transfer should please fans of the film and even leave detractors like myself nodding their heads.
Couples Retreat Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's effective DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track follows suit, and even manages to enhance some of the more two-dimensional lulls in the film's soundscape. Dialogue, ever the concern in a chatty comedy like Couples Retreat, is clear, intelligible, and well prioritized. Lines are never lost in the shark-frenzied chaos, drowned out by the island nightlife, or dampened by the click-clack madness of a Guitar Hero match. LFE output is largely restrained, but opens up on more than one occasion, lending weight and heft to the couples' more bizarre misadventures. Likewise, the rear speakers are mainly used to support ocean ambience and resort acoustics, but get their own opportunities to show off a decidedly decent soundfield. While it isn't as enveloping as a Hollywood blockbuster or immersive as a nuanced Oscar-winner, directionality is convincing, pans are nice and smooth, and dynamics are more than equipped for the task at hand. Ultimately, Couples Retreat isn't going to turn heads or leave a trail of aching ears in its wake, but its lossless mix will appease its fanbase and leave listeners with few complaints.
Couples Retreat Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Couples Retreat includes a surprisingly dull suite of special features, the vast majority of which will leave fans of the film shrugging their shoulders and checking their watches. Even the disc's Vaughn-helmed Picture-in-Picture track fizzles. Ah well. All of the video content is presented in high definition, so that's a plus.
Couples Retreat Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Yet another mediocre comedy earns yet another above average AV presentation. To Universal's credit, the Blu-ray edition of Couples Retreat offers an excellent video transfer and a fit and faithful DTS-HD Master Audio track. Unfortunately, the film itself is a hit-or-miss tour of every conceivable genre convention, and Vaughn and Billingsley's awkward supplemental package teeters on the edge of awful before plummeting into the abyss. If you enjoyed Four Christmases, Couples Retreat will probably appeal to your sensibilities. If not, save your money for a smarter, sharper comedy.
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Couples Retreat Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Sales, Feb. 8-14: Couples Retreat Gets BD Love (Update) - February 18, 2010
Couples Retreat was the top-selling title on Blu-ray during the week ended February 14, according to Nielsen VideoScan First Alert. It generated nearly 20% of its unit sales from Blu-ray Disc, a record percentage for a PG-13 comedy. Zombieland slipped to second ...
• Today on Blu-ray - February 9th - February 9, 2010
Making his full-length feature directorial debut, Peter Billingsley (who will forever be known as "Ralphie" from A Christmas Story) couldn't have hopped for a better supporting team. On writing detail was popular funnyman Vince Vaughn and the driving force behind ...
• Universal Announces Couples Retreat Blu-ray - December 22, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced 'Couples Retreat' for release on Blu-ray on February 9, 2010. This marital-therapy comedy starring Vince Vaughn grossed over $107 million domestically, making it Universal's second-biggest movie this year. This ...
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