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Four couples take a South Pacific island holiday on which their broken relationships get fixed …even though they may not realize anything needs fixing. Here's a look at the new comedy film Couples Retreat.
The resort is called "Eden;" but, as so often happens in a paradise, temptations abound for lifelong friends from the American Midwest. The journey starts with a jolt from one seemingly happy pair.
They insist the relationship repair sessions are optional: that the friends can just have fun while the unhappy couple goes through counseling. Once at the remote island resort, things turn out to be different …but all of them eventually benefit from the unorthodox methods at Eden.
Co-stars Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn co-wrote the Couples Retreat script (along with screenwriter Dana Fox); and Vaughn says their goal was to sweeten the message with laughs.
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"Sometimes you think that you're succeeding at what you're told life should be," Vaughn explains, " I have to get a job and make money, I have to make sure my kids are doing this - and then all of a sudden where are you in that? You start to come in last because the priorities and obligations of life are taking up your time and you forget to have fun with the person that you are with. If you are constantly solving problems with that person you are kind of dimming the flame; so it's important to, every now and then, go outside and lay down on a blanket or go to concert together …just go have fun and laugh with each other. Don't try to solve everything. You don't have to solve everything. At least give yourself some fuel for all of the obligations that we all have to go through."
Romantic comedies often focus on either the man's or woman's perspective; but Malin Akerman, who plays the wife of Vaughn's character, says this one gives equal opportunity.
"One thing that drew me to the script from the beginning was that it is couples' relationships, which you don't usually see," Akerman says. "It's 'the guys club' or you have an all-female [view] such as Sex and the City. It was really nice, from the beginning, just to get a script where you go 'wow, it's couples and everyone is kind of balanced and you've got these four stories and everyone gets their arc."
The role of the annoyingly detail-oriented organizer of the trip is a comfortable fit for the dry wit of Jason Bateman.
"There is nothing funny about a guy who is relaxed and can let everything roll off of his back," Bateman says. "Discomfort and embarrassment and humiliation is funny and so if your character is halfway there it makes your job a little bit easier. You don't have to act as hard."
"There is such a complexity and fun to just people and relationships just in people," Couples Retreat director Peter Billingsley says.
The director adds that he hopes that harried adults might recognize themselves in the film's characters and get a few laughs as well as a message of hope for their own relationships.
" 'Message' is a tough word because people use that as the intent of the movie," notes Billingsley. "The intent is to entertain people, to make them laugh and give an experience they can relate to that is fun and enjoyable. I think that particularly in today's times when life is tough it is nice to go a movie and escape and to feel some sense of hope. There is enough bad news on the news every day and surrounding you there are enough difficult times for people. It's nice having the cinema be an experience where you can escape, you can laugh, you can relate and let your worries go."
Couples Retreat was filmed at a luxury resort on Bora Bora. The couples include Kristin Davis, Kristen Bell and Faizon Love; and French action star Jean Reno is the relationship guru at "Eden." The musical score is by Indian composer and Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman.