An ostensible paean to making a marriage work, Couples Retreat is instead so long, inert, and torturously unfunny that it makes a strong case for the drunk-and-promiscuous single life. In a last-ditch effort to save their union, analytical Jason (Jason Bateman) and barren-wombed Cynthia (Kristen Bell) convince their friends to join them on a vacation at Eden, a tropical paradise where the troubled couple can partake in therapy while the rest of the group can party to their hearts’ delight. Upon arriving at this “Disneyland for adults,” however, it turns out that everyone has to spend time with the shrink or risk being thrown off the island, a fate which—unfortunately for the art of cinematic comedy—does not befall these universally bland, mirthless individuals.
During the course of their stay, Dave (Vince Vaughn) discovers that he’s not paying enough attention to Ronnie (Malin Åkerman), Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristen Davis) learn that they’d rather go to Applebee’s together than cheat on each other, and Shane (Faizon Love) realizes that he prefers his ex-wife to current 20-year-old girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk). All of these revelations revolve around pitifully dull matrimonial truisms—Listen! Be more open with your feelings! Don’t take your spouse for granted!—but, worse still, are delivered with an apathy unbecoming of its usually likeable and energetic cast.
Despite being co-written by Swingers and Made mates Favreau and Vaughn, the two only share a solitary one-on-one spat, which like the rest of the proceedings feels made up on the fly. That certainly holds true with regard to Peter Billingsley’s flat direction, which, when not slapping together mismatched shots, manages to make the story’s gorgeous setting seem like your run-of-the-mill Florida getaway-cum-backlot set. With neither insights nor laughs, the script a mess of laborious therapy-session chitchat and punchline-less hijinks that go nowhere (including Vaughn gamely yet futilely trying to riff his way out of a shark-attack scenario), Couples Resort ultimately comes off as merely an excuse for stars to take a vacation on the studio’s—and moviegoing public’s—dime.