Vince Vaughn and crew are back in the predictable, but humorous “Couples Retreat”. This time around Vaughn stars as Dave, a happily married Guitar Hero salesman whose life is continually complicated by his best friends (Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau). Jason (Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) are on the verge of a divorce. They decide to try a therapy vacation for couples at an exclusive resort. The problem is they can’t afford the trip without the group discount, so they convince their friends and spouses to come along. They find a tropical paradise, but did not expect the kind of ‘therapy’ offered by new age guru Marcel (Jean Reno).

The plot is generic as hell, but they do one thing particularly well. The site gags are absolutely hilarious. A few are given away in the commercials and trailers, but the majority have been blissfully kept for the paying audience. One scene in particular, a yoga class from the muscled Fabio-esque instructor had me laughing for hours after the movie. They rely on these a bit too much, but it works; so you can’t fault them if you’re laughing your ass off.

These buddy comedies from Vaughn and Favreau are getting too formulaic. Somewhere in the set up for site gags, I guess they realized characters actually had to speak and interact in a film. The dialogue is cheesy, especially the long, drawn-out monologues about what’s wrong in their respective relationships. Vaughn and Favreau are normally great comedy writers, but they’re obviously going to the well with this story. It’s a clever idea, they just didn’t have enough juice to tie it all in.

The female leads in the film are all one note. They’re never given anything engaging to do or say. They’re gorgeous – Malin Ackerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis, Kali Hawk – and that’s about it. This is a shame, especially when you have actresses who are quite capable of delivering good comedic performances. Vaughn and Favreau should have gotten a rewrite from an established female comic. This would have beefed up the female roles and made it less of a ‘man’ film.

I did expect more from Couples Retreat. Maybe I overestimated the cast and writers, but it is funny. And the tropical setting is impressive. So if you’re feeling a bit chilly in the northeast, Couples Retreat is a spot of light escapism.

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