Going Mobile: Couples Retreat (iTunes Review)

This comedy follows four couples as they head to a paradise resort. One couple is there to mend their failing relationship through therapy and skill building exercises, while the others are along for some fun and to help out there friends by qualifying them for a discount group package. However the four couples soon discover that the therapy and couples exercises are mandatory which leads to some truths coming out for all those involved. Amongst the male cast are Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn who also penned the script (alongside Dana Fox who has a bit-part in the film), and both can be seen playing the same kind of role they have been for years now which is that somewhat babbling, slightly oafish every-man that you can’t help but feel is more or less an extension of themselves on screen. For the most part it works though it can be slightly annoying at times, but really the point here is that they are not alone, as every one of the main characters is intended to be somewhat likeable, possibly relatable but of utmost importance, never outright detestable. Couples Retreat is a middling comedy that never tries to be anything more than that, never looking to upset the balance and it does this by making it very clear from the outset that each of the couples in the film is destined for a happy ending and we can see they’ll get that by overcoming a few problems in this paradise setting.

For a simple comedy it is somewhat overlong at 113-minutes and certainly one that peaks around the hour mark. In that first hour we get some basic introductions to the couples followed by Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell delivering a wonderful power-point presentation, combining sincerity with desperation but always with a deadpan sense of humour, that gets them onto the island resort. Once there we’re treated to a few low-key guest star therapists quizzing the couples, the highlights being Ken Jeong and John Michael Phillips who put in some great comic performances in amongst the other more physical gags seen as the couples take on skill building classes (the uninhibited Yoga instructor character is pretty much the Hank Azaria character from Along Came Polly) and various other activities. Once the hour mark is hit the story obviously has to kick back in and the couples start dealing with their marital problems, which is really where things start to disintegrate a little and viewers might lose interest. It’s also where you might start to groan at things like product placement, and it’s not just a crate of Budweiser that might catch your eye, but the grossly blatant Guitar Hero advertisement which takes place in the last hour in which Vaughn and the brilliantly snobbish Peter Serafinowicz duel it out on-screen complete with crowd meter and score info. It’s really as bad as it sounds, and yes the film ends on the sweet note you could of predicted just by watching the trailer, complete with an improbable reunion between one of the couples, but at the end of the day if you go in knowing what to expect there are laughs to be had here from an undemanding piece of entertainment.

Couples Retreat is available to purchase now through the iTunes Store

The 1.58GB download gets you the film in 853x460 (1.85:1 Widescreen) encoded using AVC MPEG4. Audio is available in English Stereo and English DD5.1 Surround and when combined with the video presentation the end result is roughly DVD quality although I would note the compression is slightly lacking in places (areas of shadow in particular). There are no subtitles, but you do get 20 chapter stops and all of the DVD extras with the exception of the commentary track. Why something as simple as a commentary is missing I’m not sure, the film already has multiple audio options, though if I had to guess I would posit that because the extras are a separate additional download (485Mb) there is no way of adding an extra audio track to the film without making it part of the standard film download. As for the extras which are here, they’re accessible via a handsome little menu system which mimics a DVD menu and gives you quick access to the film, chapter stops and extras. Running for approximately 36-minutes the bonus features are mainly composed of additional footage including some unfunny deleted scenes, even worse extended scenes and an alternate ending that takes the already happy mood of the one that was used and piles on the sugary sweetness ensuring a sick bag is a requirement. Then you also have a gag reel that is no worse than usual and extended versions of the therapy sessions which led me to be thankful they were edited down to the concise versions found in the finished cut. Lastly there are two featurettes, one on the location filming and another on the yoga scene, neither of which is anything more than standard promotional fare.

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