Making the Grades
Despite their carefully managed livesand medical intervention, Jason (Jason Bateman) and his wife Cynthia (Kristen Bell) can’t get pregnant. And now the disappointment of not being able to control every aspect of their fertility has driven the compulsive couple to the brink of divorce.
Wanting to make even this decision judiciously, they sign up for one final attempt to save their sinking marriage. But to afford the luxurious stay at a tropical retreat (where they will meet daily with a relationship guru and staff of therapists), they have to take the group package and convince six of their friends to come along as well.
Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman) are swamped with work, house renovations and the responsibility of raising two young sons (Gattlin Griffith, Colin Baiocchi). Yet Jason knows that if he can get Dave and Ronnie to come, Joey (Jon Favreau) and Shane (Faizon Love) will show up with their partners as well. Fortunately Grandpa Jim Jim (Vernon Vaughn) offers to babysit and by week’s end, all eight of them are disembarking onto the warm beaches of Bora Bora. There they are shuttled off to the married couples’ side of the island—though some of them would prefer the singles’ side of the landmass.
What the friends haven’t planned on is the intense couple building skills that all of them are forced to go through with their counselor Marcel (Jean Reno) and concierge Sctanley (intentionally spelled with a c and played by Peter Serafinowicz). After a few days it is evident that Jason and Cynthia aren’t the only ones facing some difficulties. Joey and Lucy (Kristen Davis) are high school sweethearts who are living a sham until their daughter leaves for college. Shane has found himself a 20-year-old girlfriend after his divorce. But keeping up with the much younger Trudy (Kali Hawk) is tiring. Even Dave and Ronnie are living very separate lives though they have many shared responsibilities.
Like most films about marriage, this script leaves audiences assuming that intimacy for married people is either bad or non-existent. In spite of this, the film seems to be all about sex, from crude innuendos, implied self-pleasuring, the rehearsal of past sexual escapades, barely clothed characters and some male buttock nudity. It is soon evident that at least some of these retreat participants are living in a fantasy world. Most obvious is a pudgy, middle-age man who still relives his glory days on the high school football field, yet believes he will be able to snag some hot, young thing in a bikini.
While the challenges these husbands and wives face could be realistic, the slapdash approaches to their solutions are very improbable. One good punch to the head of another man, a passionate session in the storage room and a trite pick-up line at a bar paired with some New Age spiritualism seem to be all these pairs need to reignite their matrimonial fires at this Couples Retreat.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Couples Retreat.
Which couple in this movie do you relate to the most? How do their challenges differ? How are they the same?
What impact does sexual exploration have on the individuals in this film? What effect may it have on real relationships?