Couples Retreat is a rare find as the DVD features actually transcend the movie itself. The film is a light, fluffy comedy about dysfunctional couples that has potential but ultimately fails. This is a film that one should watch the bonus material as the copious amounts of items cut are funnier than what ended up in the movie, and a lot of said material was excised to gain the film a more family-friendly PG-13 rating.
Four couples, all with various relationship entanglements, decide to go to a beautiful island retreat for a vacation and therapy to mend their romantic troubles. There’s Dave and Ronnie (Vince Vaughn, Malin Ackerman), a married couple with children who think they’re still in love but find underlying issues they never noticed, constantly squabbling Joey and Lucy (Jon Faverau, Kristin Davis), type A personalities Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell) and divorcee Shane and his 20-year-old girlfriend Trudy (Faizon Love, Kali Hawk). The movie is light with a breathtaking location in Bora Bora, but most of the material is typical and handled with kid gloves. There’s no doubt how the couples will turn out and none of their issues are ever handled with any true seriousness. Cynthia’s inability to get pregnant is merely mentioned during arguments and is supposed to be the source of their problems, yet the couple never reflect on it for more than a second. It’s also obvious the movie was watered down at the last second to gain a PG-13, a shame because a movie dealing about couples might want to be more accommodating to the demographic in question. There’s potential and a few scenes are funny, mainly focusing on Love and Hawk’s relationship, but there’s nothing inspiring or truly funny about Couple’s Retreat.
On that note I would say rent the DVD because a few of the features are actually far more entertaining than the bland film. A full-length commentary with director Peter Billingsly and star Vince Vaughn is one of the weakest of the film, mainly because of how dry and standard it is. Both participants hit all the points necessary such as character interaction and location but there’s nothing witty and their rapport is nonexistent. Considering how funny Vaughn is normally he’s remarkably subdued on this commentary. There’s an alternate ending with commentary from the two men above (in fact the extended and deleted scenes include commentary from them as well) that’s best left out. It mainly features all the couples back at home and Vaughn gives the comments that will make you understand why it was deleted and thank goodness it was. There’s three deleted scenes, ironically the three scenes that were most hyped in the promo materials, and they’re pretty bland and you have already seen them if you’ve seen the trailer. There’s also a pretty stereotypical gay scene that was more sad than humorous. The best material comes next with the extended scenes, there are seven and all range in humor. The funniest is an extended scene at dinner with Trudy that I wish they had kept in, another involving Shane’s first wife had me in stitches (detailing all the things she did when she moved out) and again there was no reason why it should have been deleted. The rest are chuckle-worthy at best. The gag reel is unfunny and odd, consisting mainly of Malin Ackerman’s giggling and a lot of flatulence humor that didn’t come off as funny more gross. Therapy’s Greatest Hits is the best feature consisting of extended scenes with the therapists played by John Michael Higgins, Ken Jeong, Charlotte Cornwell and Amy Hill. They riff off each other perfectly and it only seems these were cut because of the harsh language, again to secure the PG-13 rating. Paradise Found: Filming in Bora Bora is great if you want to see more of the phenomenal location. It’s interesting to listen to how they had to fly in supplies and the challenging, but all that pales in comparison to how exquisite everything looks. The last feature Behind the Yoga is a pretty bland feature about the yoga scenes and Carlos Ponce’s character. It’s funny to watch Faizon Love ask Ponce to remove his genitalia from his back, but you never really learn about the yoga they use even though they attempt to give some background. It’s obvious they just found it as a funny gag.
Couple’s Retreat could have been so many things but funny it is not. If you want to see what could have been check out the extended scenes and Therapy’s Greatest Hits where all the funniest material is hiding. The DVD is a treat and makes up a bit for the lackluster film.