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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Peter Billingsley
Cast:
Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman
Writing Credits:
Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox

Tagline:
It may be paradise ... but it's no vacation.

Synopsis:
Vince Vaughn leads an all-star cast in the laugh-out-loud comedy about eight friends whose vacation in paradise is one they’ll never forget. Their group-rate vacation comes at a price when they discover that participation in the resort's unconventional couples therapy activities is anything but optional. Co-starring Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell and Malin Akerman, Couples Retreat is a hilarious party in paradise, loaded with laughter and fun!

Box Office:
Budget
$60 million.
Opening Weekend
$17.227 million on 3009 screens.
Domestic Gross
$109.065 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 2/9/2010

Bonus:
• Video Commentary with Director Peter Billingsley and Actor/Co-Writer/Producer Vince Vaughn
• Alternate Ending, Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Gag Reel
• “Therapy’s Greatest Hits”
• “Paradise Found: Filming in Bora Bora” Featurette
• “Criminal Technology” Featurette
• “Behind the Yoga” Featurette
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Couples Retreat [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 3, 2010)

What are the chances that Peter Billingsley’s obit won’t read “Played ‘Ralphie’ in Holiday Classic A Christmas Story? Slim to none, for Billingsley’s role in that flick remains his main claim to fame.

However, Billingsley has developed a good career as a producer of many Vince Vaughn flicks, and he gets a shot behind the camera in his first directorial effort: 2009’s Couples Retreat. After a tough year of failed attempts at procreation, super-logical couple Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) decide to spend a week at a plush island resort where they can reassess their relationship.

The hitch? They can’t afford to go on their own, but if they recruit three other couples, all four pairs get a half-price rate. After some cajoling, they convince friends Dave (Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman), Shane (Faizon Love) and Trudy (Kali Hawk), and Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis).

Jason and Cynthia want to partake in therapy as part of this package, but the other three couples just want fun in the sun. Though Jason and Cynthia promise that they can party with no other pressures, they learn otherwise when they get to “Eden”. There they find couples therapy is part of the vacation – whether they like it or not.

What was the last truly satisfying flick that starred Vaughn - Wedding Crashers? That might be the one that made him a mainstream star, and except for a small role in Into the Wild, he’s appeared in a consistent string of pretty awful flicks.

Retreat does absolutely nothing to break that streak, though it shows Vaughn’s continued viability at the box office. The film earned a more than respectable $109 million, which means Billingsley will get another shot to direct and Vaughn will make yet another movie in which he plays a fast-talking semi-selfish guy.

Yawn. In truth, I liked Retreat more than I expected, but that’s largely because I anticipated a completely dreadful film. Retreat never turns into anything genuinely awful, but it does seem awfully uninspired.

And long. Really long. Absurdly long. On the surface, 114 minutes doesn’t sound especially extended, but for a light comedy of this sort, the running time turns deadly, largely because the material becomes so redundant. Retreat offers no real plot; it’s essentially nothing more than a collection of comedy skits connected by a loose theme.

This ensures a “lather, rinse, repeat” approach to story that becomes tedious. If the flick lost 20-30 minutes, the repetition wouldn’t be so obvious, but the film’s general lack of inspiration combined with its extended running time means that it wears out its welcome well before the credits run.

This doesn’t make Retreat a totally unpleasant, joyless experience; it’s just tired and forgettable. It does seem like a major waste of talent, though. I can’t say I’m enormously fond of any of the flick’s main actors, but I think all possess good skills – skills that never stretch here. Like I mentioned, Vaughn provides his usual shtick, and none of the others expand their repertoires either.

Bizarrely, Favreau seems content to develop a catalog of moderately loathsome characters; his surly supporting performance actually became a minor highlight of I Love You, Man, but I still think it’s weird that he cultivates unpleasant personalities. I guess he figures he has nothing to lose, as he experiences his biggest success as the director of the Iron Man flicks.

Even with Favreau’s strange descent into unlikable characters, he doesn’t harm Retreat, but he doesn’t help it, either. None of the actors manage to aid the film in its battle with mediocrity. As I mentioned earlier, the movie never becomes a genuinely unpleasant experience, but its combination of excessive length and lack of creativity makes it a chore to watch.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Couples Retreat appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Expect a great transfer.

Sharpness appeared accurate and detailed. Virtually no softness crept into the film, as it always provided good definition and clarity. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no concerns, and edge enhancement remained absent. No print flaws materialized; the film remained clean and fresh.

In terms of colors, the flick went with a broad set of tones. Hues stayed on the natural side, with a mild golden feel to things. The tropical setting created a lot of vibrant colors, and these looked vivid. Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows appeared clear and well-developed. The image looked consistently excellent.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it offered a good effort and not much more. Of course, I didn’t expect a dazzling soundfield from this sort of comedy, and I got mostly what I anticipated. In terms of effects, general ambience ruled the day, though a few sequences added a little pizzazz. A scene with sharks featured nice movement in the back, and a storm provided good boom. Club sequences also boasted solid immersiveness.

In those forward channels, the music provided nice stereo separation and opened up the mix reasonably well. There wasn’t often a whole lot of activity or movement, but the effects conveyed a passable sense of space and place. The track functioned appropriately for the story.

Audio quality appeared fine. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, and speech displayed no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects were a minor component of the mix, and they seemed appropriately subdued and accurate; there wasn’t much to hear, but the various elements were clean and distinct. The music came across as acceptably distinctive. This was a little better than the standard “comedy mix” and became a good reproduction of the material.

The disc offers a decent set of supplements. We open with a video commentary from director Peter Billingsley and actor/co-writer/producer Vince Vaughn. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of music, locations and sets, cast and performances, editing/deleted scenes, and story and characters.

Does the video side of things ever add anything to the presentation? Not in the least. The video simply shows Vaughn and Billingsley as they stare at a screen. I’ve never really understood the appeal of video commentaries, as I don’t think they’re an improvement on the standard audio track, and this one does nothing to change my mind.

As for the content of the commentary, it tends to bore. Too much of the time, Vaughn and Billingsley simply explain the movie. Guys, it’s not 2001; it’s an exceedingly basic narrative/collection of characters that requires no discussion. A few fun facts about the production emerge, and I like the attempts at joking, such as when the pair discuss Billingsley’s work on Little House. Unfortunately, too few of these moments emerge, so the commentary usually turns into a dud.

The disc includes an Alternate Ending as well as Deleted and Extended Scenes. Called “Back in Chicago”, the alternate ending runs two minutes, 56 seconds and finishes the flick on a big sappy note. It’s a lame finale.

From there we check out the nine deleted scenes (10:01) and three extended scenes (4:22). Some of these add unnecessary exposition leading to the vacation, and we see other character bits that reinforce concepts we already know (Joey and Lucy cheat, Shane gets tired easily). There’s also a detour into a gay bar that’s not funny, but it’s at least something new.

As for the extended scenes, we get longer versions of “Dinner at Eden” (2:28), “Lucy’s Massage” (0:32) and “Jennifer’s Journey” (1:22). These offer more of the same old, same old. “” is the most interesting just because it shows two angles of the sequence, so it’s almost fun to check out two perspectives of the same piece.

We can watch all the cut footage with or without commentary from Billingsley and Vaughn. They throw out decent details about the shots as well as a little about why the pieces were cut. Nothing fascinating shows up, but they add some reasonable information.

A Gag Reel lasts three minutes, 22 seconds. I’d like to report that it contains something more interesting than goof-ups and giggles. However, it doesn’t; this is the standard silliness.

Under Therapy’s Greatest Hits, we get a five-minute, 31-second collection of outtakes. As implied by the title, all of these come from the movie’s therapy sessions. They combine deleted scenes and bloopers, as Vaughn can’t keep a straight face during John Michael Higgins’ improv bits. The clips become mildly amusing and that’s about it.

Two featurettes follow. Paradise Found: Filming in Bora Bora goes for six minutes, 18 seconds and includes remarks from Vaughn, Billingsley, co-producer John Isbell, producer Scott Stuber, executive producers Victoria Vaughn and Guy Riedel, production designer Shepherd Frankel, and actors Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Peter Serafinowicz, Carlos Ponce, Kristin Davis, and Jason Bateman. To the surprise of no one, we get details about working in Bora Bora. Some travel brochure fluff emerges, but we also find interesting thoughts related to challenges shooting in a fairly remote location.

Finally, Behind the Yoga fills four minutes, 26 seconds with remarks from Vince Vaughn, Billingsley, Victoria Vaughn, Ponce, Favreau, Stuber, Akerman, Bateman, Bell, Love and yoga instructor Genevieve Mack. We learn about Ponce’s character/performance as well as aspects of the yoga featured in the flick. Like “Paradise”, this one has some puffy moments but offers an acceptably satisfying discussion.

A second disc offers a Digital Copy of Retreat. Via this platter, you can slap the flick onto a portable viewing gizmo or a computer. If that excites you, I’m happy.

Despite a good cast and a premise chock full of comedic opportunity, Couples Retreat never gets off the ground. Yeah, it keeps us moderately engaged, but it remains mediocre at best. The Blu-ray provides superb visuals, good audio and an erratic set of supplements. While not an awful movie, Retreat fails to do much to entertain.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main