I think the ultimate secret about marriage is that nobody has any cluewhat a marriage actually is.
The stereotypes about it are as thick as glue pudding. It kills sex.It's wives obsessing over paint colors while husbands embed themselveson the couch, closer to John Madden and Peyton Manning than the womanthey're married to.
Nobody's ever happy, but at least the kids are cute. Since I can't legally marry my life-sized stand-up of PrincessAmidala (thanks, prudes), I'll never know what matrimony is reallylike, but the picture I get from comedies and dramas is that everyoneinvolved in one is hopelessly unqualified for the job.
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Not good news for the kids they raise, but great news for thefodder-hungry entertainment industry that chews problems up and spitsthem back out across our movie screens. The latest to tackle the issueof "Marriage: Yea or Nay?" isn't good, exactly, but CouplesRetreat is at least a retrograde maneuver rather than ahead-for-the-hills, every-man-for-himself withdrawal these thingsusually are.
Inability to conceive has strained the marriage of Jason Bateman andKristen Bell to the breaking point. Before they call it quits, theydecide to see if they can work things out at a week-long couplestherapy session on a beautiful island.
Lacking the cash to go by themselves, they talk three other couplesinto going with them, promising snorkeling, jet skis, and a good timeby all. But on arrival, they discover the therapy program ismandatory, leaving the group locked in a rigid program ofpartner-appreciation, counseling and yoga.
That doesn't sound so horrific unless you happen to have a Ychromosome, in which case you'd probably rather spend a week beingdrowned in a vat of split-pea soup. Couples Retreat billeditself as a romantic comedy but for dudes, and with the presence ofVince Vaughn and Jon Favreau (who co-wrote, along with Dana Fox),there's at least the hope it'll play in the same ballpark asSwingers.
Like their breakout film, this one is chatty and brusque. UnlikeSwingers, this constant blather rarely ends up provoking manylaughs. It's lightly funny throughout, but it's more agreeable thanhilarious.
Odd, considering they have about ninety jillion characters to makejokes with. You know how most movies have one or two main characters?Couples Retreat makes the infinitely wise decision to haveeight.
I don't even have eight friends. How am I supposed to keep up withthat many fictional leads? The script doesn't seem to know, either;though Vaughn and Favreau get a good amount of screen time (howconvenient!), everyone else, including their wives, is shuffledoff to the sidelines, leaving us in the awkward position of trying tocare about the relationships of people we know nothing about. I stilldon't know anything about Faizon Love's character other than he's fatand easily tired.
It's a testament to the movie's overall likeability that it's notoutright insufferable once these sketched-in people start in with themandatory heartfelt speeches of reconciliation. These pack slightlymore punch than your average feel-good makeup speech, but that's likesaying O'Doul's will get you drunk faster than water: true enough, butsurely there's a better way. A beer bottle of a movie, CouplesRetreat is fleetingly fun and awfully disposable.