Radio 10.09.09
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film opening today at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :
“Couples Retreat” is a movie that takes several left turns, and thus defies easy categorization.  Four couples seem to be very good friends---or, at least, the guys have been good friends for a long time, and their wives have sort of joined into the fellowship.  They’re all thirtysomethings, all busy with their careers. Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Maline Akerman) have a couple of young children, and are trying to renovate their house.  Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) have tried unsuccessfully to have children, and suddenly startle the others by telling them that they are considering divorcing, and have signed on to a “couples weekend,” but they need the others to come, also, in order to get the group discount.  This is awkward for Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) because they were also, unbeknownst to the others, on the rocks and planning to divorce, but it’s really awkward for Shane (Faizon Love), who’s already divorced from his wife, and is doing the middle-aged crisis thing of dating a 20-year-old (Kali Hawk), who really doesn’t fit in with the rest of the group.  Nonetheless, they all decide to go, but instead of the jet-skiing, hiking to the waterfall, and partying by the pool, they get….mandatory yoga at 6 a.m. , followed by…required therapy sessions?
            So the four couples, figuring they’re there and may as well make the best of it, struggle with themselves, their therapists, and all their unspoken expectations.  At first, it’s awkwardly humorous, but then, it morphs into something that feels like hard work:  emotional confrontations, long-repressed anger boiling up and boiling over.  They try to do a few sight gags with a smarmy exercise therapist and some kind of self-appointed love guru.  But basically, the viewer is asked to endure some painful revelations and personal shortcomings.  When it feels like everything’s just going to fall apart completely, we have the next left turn, which is….rooting for the long-time couples to re-ignite the flickering embers of their once-fiery romances. 
            Well, as one who is himself one of the long-time-marrieds, it’s hard not to root for them.  But the point they seem to be making----that they all sort of forgot how to have fun together----applies to the big middle of this movie, as well.  “Couples Retreat” is hilarious, in places, and well-meaning throughout.  But most of the time, the mood is way too somber for those who just want to enjoy a lighthearted comedy. 
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM