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Monday Review: Paranormal Activity and Couples Retreat


'Swingers' guys are all growds up

It happens to every comedian. They get older, and their comedy veers from that of the youth to that of the not so youthful. Couples Retreat is the epitome of this. The guys who made Swingers, possibly one of the most iconic male relationship movies of the 90s, have grown up and made a movie not about picking up girls, but about settling down and falling in love. For those of us who were weened on the idea that we're all "money, and we don't even know it" it's a little difficult to see, but is it bad? Not entirely. It's not entirely good either.

Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau have once again teamed up to write the screenplay for a buddy guy film. This time, however, the guys are mostly married and staring 40 in the face. When one of the guys and his wife feel that their marriage is falling apart they convince the rest of the couples to head to a marriage counseling resort with the promise that the marriage counseling is optional. Turns out it isn't, and all the couples go through questions about their marriage and life. Now the idea of Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman and Fazion Love trapped on an island doing hilarious things while accompanied by Kristen Bell, Malin Akerman, Kristin Davis and Kali Hawk (all in bikinis) sounds like one of the greatest ideas on earth for a bunch of various reasons -- it sadly is not.

The film actually starts out amazingly well, especially if you've been judging its comedy from the trailers. It seems Favreau and Vaughn (accompanied by Dana Fox) still have some comedy gold in their pens. It's not as quotable as their previous efforts, but there some great lines in there. As the group gets to the island and starts counseling the comedy is sharp and entertaining. It's looking like this is going to be a far more enjoyable movie than the standard rom-com trailers made it out to be. Vaughn, Favreau, Bateman and Fazion all seem to be on some good comedy 'A' game, even if some of the slapstick is pretty cheesy. The ladies, who play a much larger part than women in previous Vaughn/Favreau films, handle much of the comedy extremely well despite the fact that the boys get all the best punchlines.

Then things take a turn for the worse. As the actual story of the film starts to unfold the comedy falls flat, like it was sprinting down the white sand beaches pictured in the film and hit the ocean to fast causing it to fall over. As the comedic scenes dry up so that we can have some romance the film completely loses its charm until it feels like a romantic comedy from hell replete with a Guitar Hero showdown of epically stupid proportions and all four couples magically working everything out at the exact same time in the exact same location. Gone is the actual quality humor of the first hour and it's replaced with the kind of stuff you expect to find in a romantic comedy about married couples going to an island.

And so we are once again left with the question of why good comedians start making terrible movies as they get older. Is it just something that happens? Once you're past 35 or so you have to start making films that have lost their edge entirely. Are they that out of touch with what is funny? If that is the case then Couples Retreat mike actually show us the exact moment when this happens to Vaughn and Favreau.

[Please click the link in my profile so I may continue to fight off the evil that attacks the Australian clams every year.]
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About Matthew Razakone of us since 2:04 PM on 04.03.2009

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