Couples Retreat (2009)

Rated: PG-13 on appeal for sexual content and language. (originally Rated R for some sexual material.)
Length: 113 minutes
Grade: DDAD=D
Budget: $70 million
Box Office: $169 million (109 U.S., 60 Intl.)

Written by: Jon Favreau (Made, Swingers), Vince Vaughn (The Break-Up), and Dana Fox (What Happens in Vegas, The Wedding Date)
Directed by: Peter Billingsley (First movie)
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau, malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis, and Kali Hawk
With: Jean Reno, Carlos Ponce, and Peter Serafinowicz

Four middle-aged couples in various stages of relational disrepair go to a resort island for a week of intense counseling and bonding.

Entertainment Value: D
I did laugh a few times, but this was bad. Bad plot. Bad acting. Uninteresting dialogue. A premise which is bizarre. And it’s extremely vulgar for a PG-13 movie. This shouldn’t surprise me from Vaughn and Favreau, but come on. I think the funniest line in the movie was, “My name is Stanley, with a C.” Even the usually reliable Jean Reno couldn't save this disaster.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sex/Nudity D, Violence B, Language D
This was R until they appealed and got it reduced to PG-13. I’d say PG-15 at the very least, but why would you want to? I have no idea why the makers of this movie even cared about lowering the rating since no one under 35 will have any interest in going to see this story about failing marriages. The only violence is one near shark-attack and lots of bickering between couples and one fistfight. There is a ton of sexual innuendo and vulgar sexuality, although without any actual nudity. The language is constant and heavy, just without any F-bombs. Seriously. This is an R-rated movie that only adults could possibly enjoy anyhow. I don’t know why they even tried to make it PG-13.

Significant Content: A
Gurus are generally idiots who may succeed in spite of themselves. All marriages can be salvaged if only you will realize that once you’ve been married for a long time (7-10 years) that person cannot be replaced by anyone else and then choose to work at making this person your beloved again. Also, relationships that seem good may not be and ones that seem frail may be quite robust.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
One could almost forgive all the negative elements here if only because the message is so positive in the end, but I’m pretty sure they funded half of this movie with money from Applebees and the makers of Guitar Hero. Seriously, there are two different scenes where the characters say “Applebees” like fifteen times in a row and an entirely ridiculous scene built around a Guitar Hero playoff. At least they picked a great Billy Squier song to compete with.

Discussion Questions:
~In each of the four couples’ cases, a different realization or stimulus serves to being them back together. What are they, and how effective do you think each of them is?
~What do you think a soul mate is? What goes into becoming a soul mate? Is time an essential ingredient? How much time? Are soul mates discovered or made?
~What mistakes or patterns of neglect can you see in each of these four couples? What advice would you give to any of them?
~Do you think every marriage be saved?
~Is there one way that all marriages are supposed to work, or does each couple define the relationship among themselves? Can you identify strong and weak marriages easily from the outside?
~One scene involves a discussion of cheating in the heart versus cheating with your body. Is it just as bad to cheat in your heart? What did Jesus teach? If it is just as bad, what reason would a lustful person have for not following through on his (or her) desires?
~Do you think that a couple who is considering divorce owes their friends an explanation and should invite their friends into that process with them as was done in this movie?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~Many I do remember, but none I care to remember.
Overall Grade: D
Don’t do it. You heard it from me first. But Christianity Today gave this 1½ stars and Rotten Tomatoes rated it only 11% fresh. Please trust all of us and spare yourself the pain.

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