Released October 8, 2009
The set of Temptation Island has been hosed off for Vince Vaughn’s latest relationship comedy, Couples Retreat. Anyone who caught the UK TV show about hot singles shimmying in front of “committed” couples has at least one storyline of this four pair adventure sorted. Alongside these highschool sweethearts turned sour (John Favreau and Kristen Davis), the remaining trio run the gamut of divorcee with a 20yr old distraction (Faizon Love and Kali Hawk), committed family pair who have lost their spark (Vaughn and Malin Ackerman) and type A, reproductively challenged duo facing divorce (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell). All take up the group rate on Eden Island, a place outwardly resembling its biblical name and just as fraught with temptation.
Yes, thirteen years on from Swingers, it seems Vaughn and Favreau have all grown up. The banter may be as dry and quick-witted as ever, but the jokes now include kids weeing in homewares stores and the inherent humour of couples counselling. The result: a middling comedy that could easily be seen as an elaborate excuse for a group holiday.
To be fair, these old friends are obviously having a great time. This fun mostly translates to the screen, the best example being the guitar hero battle. This overly long, shamelessly self-indulgent scene is marginally saved by its humorous play on the conventions of the Western and quest genres. Some great guest performances also bolster the film, particularly John Michael Higgins (The Break-Up) and Ken Jeong (The Hangover) as unconventional therapists and a rather blissed out Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional) as the mastermind of Eden Island, “Couples-Whisperer” Monsieur Marcel.
Couples Retreat may not quite be a broad comedy, nor – given its analysis of relationships – a good choice for a date movie. But despite these marketing challenges, there’s something endearing about watching Vaughn and his mates do their shtick in a setting perfectly described in the film as, “Holy shit, this looks like a screensaver!”