Theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Peter Billingsley|
|Produced by||Scott Stuber
|Written by||Jon Favreau
|Music by||A. R. Rahman|
|Edited by||Dan Lebental
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
Couples Retreat is a 2009 American romantic comedy film written and directed by Peter Billingsley with contributions to the script by Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox, Curtis Hanson, and Greg Beeman. Vaughn and Favreau star with Faizon Love, Jason Bateman, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell, Malin Åkerman and Jean Reno. It was released on October 9, 2009, in the United States. The film was shot mostly on the island of Bora Bora.
||This section's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (March 2014)|
Dave (Vince Vaughn), a dealer for Guitar Hero, and Ronnie (Malin Åkerman), a stay-at-home mum, are a typical couple with two young children. They experience various stresses including redecorating their house and raising their kids. Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) are high school sweethearts with a smart but naive teenage daughter named Lacey. Their relationship is on the rocks. Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) are a neurotic couple who've experienced multiple failed attempts to conceive, and Shane (Faizon Love), who has recently separated from his wife, has a much younger twenty-year-old girlfriend, Trudy (Kali Hawk).
At Dave's son's birthday party, Jason and Cynthia, using PowerPoint, announce their troubled marriage and that they are considering divorce because they cannot have a baby. As a last-ditch effort, they have found a couples therapy resort named Eden. A deal called the Pelican Package is half the normal cost if they can get three other couples to join them. In their presentation, they show beautiful pictures of sunlit beaches and beautiful locations. They also assure the others that the couples therapy is purely optional.
Dave and Ronnie discuss their inability to go because of childcare responsibilities and decline the trip. In the middle of the night, their home security alarm is activated when Jason shows up unexpectedly to further sell the idea of the retreat. The commotion wakes the kids, who have overheard their parents' conversations of not being able to go because of them. Fearing that their parents are contemplating divorce, the kids have already arranged for Dave's father, Grandpa Jim-Jim (played by Vince Vaughn's real-life father, Vernon Vaughn) to babysit so their parents can go to Eden.
The retreat proves to be divided into Eden West and Eden East. West is for couples and uses the tagline "Stay Together". East is for singles and uses the tagline "Come Together". East and West attendees are not allowed to intermingle.
Upon arrival at Eden West, the four couples are shown their villas. At dinner, Sctanley [sic] (pronounced "Stanley"), the resort host (Peter Serafinowicz), informs them that couples therapy, which starts at 6 a.m., is actually mandatory. If any couple fails to attend, it will be taken as an indication that they want to leave, and a refund for Eden will be given, although not for their airfare. The group debates what to do. After an indulgent dinner with many delicacies, they decide to put up with "a couple of hours" of therapy in order to enjoy the other amenities of the resort.
In the morning, each couple meets with an assigned therapist. All four couples learn that they have problems, even Ronnie and Dave, who thought they were fine. They endure resort owner Marcel's (Jean Reno) unusual methods, including swimming with and feeding lemon sharks and yoga sessions with amorous instructor Salvadore (Carlos Ponce).
On the fourth night, Trudy escapes to Eden East. The other seven, encouraged by Joey who is unsatisfied with his marriage, leave to find her. Following an argument between Cynthia and Jason, the men and women split up. As they try to find their way to the resort, the men end up arguing and pointing out each others' marriage mistakes.
The women run into Salvadore who takes them to Eden East. The men come across the staff lounge where they find Sctanley playing Guitar Hero. He threatens to report them to Marcel, but Dave challenges him to the game (without telling Sctanley that he is involved in the game's production). Sctanley, after having lost the wager, directs them to Eden East, even though he knows he was tricked by Dave.
When they arrive, Dave realizes what a good thing he has with Ronnie. He goes with her to be alone at a waterfall. Joey finds Lucy with Salvadore and knocks him out, reuniting with his wife. Cynthia and Jason share drinks and end up becoming intimate. Shane runs into his ex-wife, who admits she still loves him. Shane tells Trudy to remain in Eden East and enjoy being single, then leaves with his ex-wife. All four couples return to Eden West.
Marcel, seeing that the couples have worked out their problems, frees them from the therapy and allows them to go jet skiing, and with that, really enjoy the rest of their vacation.
- Vince Vaughn and Malin Åkerman as Dave and Ronnie (last name not revealed), a typical suburban couple with two children. Their marriage seems fine, but each of them realize that Dave tends to undermine Ronnie by crossing emotional boundaries and blocking her needs due to his exhausting work. They earn the mule (ass) as their animal spirit because they are both stubborn, and they bear the burden of not only their troubles but also those of others. (It is also of mention that Dave used a password similar to their animal spirit.)
- Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis as Joey and Lucy Tanzini, high school sweethearts that have fallen apart due to their belief that they "missed out" on living after high school, having been married and becoming parents immediately after. They have a daughter named Lacey (Jonna Walsh) who is a smart but somewhat rebellious teen. After reuniting they are given the token of the wolf spirit as they are pack animals but their hearts always lie with their destined mate.
- Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell as Jason and Cynthia Smith, a troubled couple whose idea it was to go to Eden with their friends. Their issues stem from a lack of communication complicated with Jason's more controlling methods and their trouble with conceiving a baby. They are a very organized couple and are the most interested in repairing their relationship. They are given the token of the rabbit due to their innate ability to overcome any obstacles that stand in their way.
- Faizon Love and Kali Hawk as Shane and Trudy, a completely polar opposite couple. Trudy and Shane soon tire of each other due to their differences in age and interests. Trudy goes off to the local single scene, and while attempting to find her and bring her back, Shane and his wife Jennifer reconcile instead. They are given the token of the honeybee to symbolize that while they may visit other flowers from time to time, nothing is as sweet as returning to their hive.
- Jean Reno plays Marcel, the lead therapist, founder and operator of the resort
- Peter Serafinowicz plays Sctanley (pronounced Stanley, but with a silent 'c' like the one in "scent"), the English manager of the resort who oversees the couples' stay and was the original scoring champion of Guitar Hero on the island
- Tasha Smith as Jennifer, ex-wife of Shane
- Jonna Walsh as Lacey Tanzini
- Ken Jeong as a therapist
- Amy Hill as a therapist
- John Michael Higgins as a therapist
- Carlos Ponce as Salvadore, the yoga instructor
- Temuera Morrison as Briggs, the native assistant to Marcel - his name is misspelt as Temeura in the opening credits
- Karen David as Spa Attendant
The primary location for filming was at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, Bora Bora in French Polynesia. Other filming locations include Los Angeles, Universal Studios and O'Hare International Airport.
The sinister, darker scenes of the film were omitted from the final cut of the movie.
Universal Pictures was criticized for removing actors Faizon Love and Kali Hawk from the international posters for the film, showing only six rather than the eight cast members used for the U.S. promotional materials. The studio said it regretted causing offense and has abandoned plans to use the revised poster in other countries.
Universal Pictures partnered with various groups for financial support to help market the film. Sponsors include the Tourism Board of Tahiti where the film was made, the manufacturers of Bud Light and Captain Morgan's Rum, Bloomingdale's department store, and Crunch Gyms. The video game Guitar Hero is also prominently featured in the film.
The film received mostly negative reviews. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, the film received generally unfavorable reviews earning a score of 23% based on 27 reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an aggregate rating of 11% based on 158 reviews, with a rating score of 3.6 out of 10. The critical consensus states that "Despite a talented cast and some reliably pleasant interplay between Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, Couples Retreat leaves viewers stranded in an arid, mirthless comedy."
A former model and current salon stylist, Irina Krupnik, filed a $10 million misappropriation-of-likeness invasion-of-privacy lawsuit, naming several defendants including the producers of Couples Retreat arising from a purported masturbation scene in which actor Jon Favreau uses a photo of her. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge O. Peter Sherwood ruled against Krupnik, and she received nothing.
Despite the negative critical reception, it was a box office success, ranking first for its opening weekend grossing $34,286,740 and becoming Vince Vaughn's highest box office success since 2006's The Break-Up. The film has grossed $109.2 million domestically and $58.8 million in foreign markets for a worldwide total of $171 million.
- "Movie projector: 'Couples Retreat' could bring Universal much needed good news". Los Angeles Times. 2009-10-08.
- "Movie Couples Retreat – Box Office Data". The-Numbers. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "Couples Retreat (2009) Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- Vaughan, in his DVD commentary, briefly explains this odd spelling, noting "[it] is just kinda fun 'cos it makes ya think, well, why and how".
- Bryon Perry (2008-11-23). "Tasha Smith". Variety. Retrieved 2008-12-05.
- Can be seen from film credits and the official St. Regis Bora Bora website.
- "Vince Vaughn, Ron Howard eye cheating picture". Reuters. 2010-01-06.
- Miles Goslett (2009-11-15). "Race row as black stars are airbrushed from Couples Retreat film poster". The Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2009-11-15.
- "The Big Picture". The Los Angeles Times. 2009-11-17.
- Couples Retreat at Metacritic. Retrieved on 2011-09-06.
- "Couples Retreat". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-09-06.
- "Former Model Sues NBC Universal Over 'Couples Retreat'.". ABC News. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- "Former Bikini Model Loses Tort Claim Over Use of Photo in Movie". Jonathan Turley. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Official website
- Couples Retreat at the Internet Movie Database
- Video Interview With Vaughn, Favreau, Bell and Reno at AMCtv.com