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Movie Review

Couples Retreat a.k.a. “All inclusive,” “Lomaterapiaa,” “Pocitnice za odrasle”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual material.

Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson

Very Offensive
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1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
October 9, 2009 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: February 9, 2010
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Marriage in the Bible

What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer



Women in the Bible

Biblical women with admirable character, include: Mrs. Noah, Mary (mother of Jesus), Esther, Deborah, and Milcah, daugher of Zelophehad.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE—Under what conditions may Christians divorce and remarry? Answer

Divorce in the Bible

What does it mean to be “the husband of one wife”? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.


Featuring: Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Jean Reno, Jon Favreau, Ken Jeong, Kristin Davis, Jean Reno, John Michael Higgins, Faizon Love, Tasha Smith, Temuera Morrison, Peter Serafinowicz, Karen David, Carlos Ponce, Kali Hawk, Linda Bella, Alyssa Julya Smith, Jonna Walsh, Scott Burn, Xavier Tournaud, Janna Fassaert, James Ferris, Nelson Carvajal, Phillip Jordan, Nick Grosvenor, Jordann Kimley, Ama'ri, John Bailey, Jonathan C. Barnes, Chantelle Barry, Michael Patrick Breen, Debbi Burns, Joe DeVito, Marisa DeVonish, Robert Don, Nick Ferrin, Jon Fleming, Darren Elliot Fulsher, Gattlin Griffith, Meghan Holly, Marketa Janska, Emiko King, Dan Latham, Stefán Mávi, Meghan McCabe, Alan Mueting, Katherine Lee Murphy, Hyacinth Nier, Shawn Nier, Jeremy Olson, James Pusztay, Aneliese Roettger, Heidi Shepherd, Joel Shock, Robert Paul Taylor, Daniel Cage Theodore, Chris D. Thomas, Giota Trakas, Christopher Villar
Director: Peter Billingsley
Producer: Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Wild West Picture Show Productions, Stuber Productions, John Isbell, Micah Mason, Udi Nedivi, Guy Riedel, Sandra J. Smith, Scott Stuber, Victoria Vaughn, Vince Vaughn
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“It may be paradise… but it’s no vacation.”

Jason and Cynthia are married and love each other, but have had trouble over the past year conceiving, and it is taking a toll on their marriage. They are considering a divorce. Before they call it quits, they decide to try and rekindle their relationship by taking a vacation, and they’ve invited all their friends to come along: Dave and Ronnie who are happily married with two kids, Joe and Lucy have been married since Lucy got pregnant with Joe’s kid on prom night, and recently divorced Shane. Little do they know that this resort, named Eden, is less of a vacation spot and more of a marriage counseling conference on an island. This is the story behind “Couples Retreat,” a film with some good messages that just doesn’t live up to its billing as a comedy. Filmed in beautiful Bora Bora, it’s a movie that has the look, but falls short of delivering the goods.

Things get off to a humorous start as we see the couples and how they relate to each other and their friends. Filled with an excellent cast (Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, and Jason Bateman along with many others), one would expect the laughs to continue. Unfortunately, when the couples get to Eden, it seems as though the movie loses its pace and most of its humor. This is partially because of how serious the movie takes the couples’ relationships and the problems they have. While it’s great to see such a respect for marriage in a Hollywood film, it also makes the funny moments seem strained, and the film seems to stall. It just doesn’t seem as though the filmmakers are capable of juggling a serious topic with moments of humor while keeping the story moving.

Aside from a few instances of bathroom humor and some minor language issues, the majority of the film’s objectionable content is of a sexual nature. There’s a great deal of it in “Couples Retreat”: From scantily clad bodies and partial nudity to constant sexual dialogue. The film isn’t shy when it comes to the topic of sex, and while some of this content is not only appropriate, but necessary, to portray a realistic marital relationship, the rest of it isn’t at all and will make many uncomfortable.

While the content will keep most away, the positive opinion of marriage held by the film is one that deserves praise.

“Couples Retreat” showcases married couples of all kinds who have different things they need to work out. When couples stray from each other or want to call it quits, they ultimately realize their mistakes and reconcile. The couple that starts out divorced even ends up getting back together. Couple therapy sessions contain serious portions that incite healthy dialogue between each husband and wife. So often movies portray marriage as something completely easy or something completely impossible, but “Couples Retreat” portrays with great detail the difficulty and joy of marriage. From a Christian viewer’s standpoint, it’s hard to ask for more than that in a film like this.

Unfortunately, between content issues and the fact that the movie just isn’t that funny, “Couples Retreat” falls woefully short of what it could’ve been. With an excellent cast, fantastic location, and such positive things to say about marriage it’s clearly an opportunity wasted. “Couples Retreat” takes one step forward, then immediately takes two back.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—First, let me begin by saying that this film is an adult film if for no other reason than because children will be bored to tears with the dialogue. And this film is for adults. My wife and I saw this movie on opening night and we were both extremely pleased with the movie, leaving the theater still laughing.

Was there objectionable content? Of course… this is a Hollywood movie. I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of vulgarity and while the clothing was skimpy, these people are on a beach… of course they are going to wear bathing suits. But as adult Christians, my wife and I were able to watch the movie (which on so very many occasions took the honorable route in discussing how marriage works, how difficult it is, and how couples need to work to make a relationship last) and filter out what little negative content is in the film.

Some of the sexual conversations were off color and said from either depressed or shallow characters and, to me, further developed why these couples were having troubles. I was able to see some of my faults in these characters, which has helped me to overcome them. To me, that signals a pretty successful movie on several levels.

***SPOILER*** Towards the end, there is a phenomenal example of the prodigal son, where a wife returns to her husband, and he shows her unconditional love and forgiveness in welcoming her back into his life. Wow. That’s pretty special.

Do I recommend this movie to anyone? Well… no. It is an adult movie with adult content. It is a great movie for married couples who want a laugh along with something that so many of us married couples can relate to.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Paul, age 29 (USA)
Positive—My wife and I decided to watch this on Valentine’s night, and boy was I happy with the choice. I will start by saying that this movie is aimed at one demographic--married couples. People who are not married, especially younger people, will not like this movie. The situation with Vince Vaughn’s character and his wife surrounding the decorating and the tile is a home run in my book. That’s real life. I’m not getting the idea that this movie slows down when they get to the island. For all of the wives out there, I think this part will really make them start paying more attention, because they go to this beautiful and romantic island getaway that I’m sure mom’s dream about while they are knee deep in laundry and surrounded by screaming kids. The dynamic of each couple is so great.

You either know or are one of these 4 couples that go on this trip. I’m guessing most couples will fall into the category of Vince Vaughn and his wife, since I think they represent the majority of American working middle class families. But the couple that has Jason Bateman portraying the husband had my wife and I constantly in stitches, because we know a couple that is that organized and that type-A.

Overall, don’t expect a Gospel presentation, or even the idea that Christ should be the center of your marriage being presented. The message of this movie, which I think even goes for Christian couples, is that marriage is hardwork, fun, adventurous, and pretty stressful sometimes. Overthinking our problems will lead us down the wrong road. Dealing with those problems honestly and openly will lead us to the next day…of working hard to make our marriage work. We as Christians have a distinct advantage over all four of these couples. We have the example of Christ and Paul’s writings to us in Ephesians. But that should never make us think that we are immune to the problems faced by these four couples in this humorous study of marriage.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Brant, age 31 (USA)
Neutral—I was really torn during this movie. I read the comments here and based on the opinions we did go see it. I found the majority of the writing clever and humorous. However, there were a few extremely offensive parts (the couples yoga…EEK!) Overall, I was impressed with the commitment to marriage and the willingness of all the people to work on their marriages and forgive and ask for forgiveness. If you can overlook the few problem areas, I would recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Erin, age 36 (USA)
Negative—It has been a long time since we were conned into seeing a dud this bad. This movie should win an award for the best advertising suggesting a “laugh-a minute” good time—when my wife, and I can’t remember anything good about it. The only thing good to say would be a warning, don’t waste your money!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—T. Klassen, age 54 (USA)
Negative—“Couples Retreat” is a moronic movie. That is much as I need say; it doesn’t go into depth, so neither need I. It is head-smackingly stupid.

I starts out okay with some funny moments, but the further it gets into the film, the more it removes itself from reality. The last 1/3 of the movie especially is so stupid and so unsatisfying that I couldn’t even suggest this movie as a turn-off-your-brain $1-rental.

The couples start out with real problems, even if they are a bit generic. So they go on a couples retreat to rejuvenate their marriages. “Eden,” the place is called. From there, they go through exercises and therapy that is so ineffective and silly that, were Eden a real couples retreat, it would be out of business in a year by bad word-of-mouth alone. The “therapy” only seems to pull the couples further apart. Of course, at the end the screenwriters try to pull it off as if it was a master plan all along, and that everything was done on purpose to create dissension so the couples could resolve it and create stronger bonds; I didn’t buy it, and neither will you.

I was not offended by the sex humor--after all, I gave a positive review for “The Hangover” and “Eyes Wide Shut.” But I think the sex humor was poorly handled. It tried to go for laughs while simultaneously trying to throw a weird “real” spin on it, and it mixed very poorly. Examples are when Jon Favreau’s character is getting a massage and becomes aroused under the towel. It could have been done in a way that was shocking and funny and revelatory. But it wasn’t; just the way the scene was built made it come off as weird and creepy. Another scene that comes to mind was when their yoga instructor, a well-built Hispanic dressed only in a speedo, teaches them some very awkward moves. The scene was both gleefully homoerotic and head-smackingly homophobic at the same time, which I must say is a hard mix to achieve, and not a mix any filmmaker wants to achieve.

In fact, that could sum up this whole film: it was a mix of frankness and timidity that overlapped in the worst way possible, creating a huge mess and wasting all the A-list talent involved. I’d say it’s 2/3 the screenwriters' fault and 1/3 the director’s fault. The actors tried to do their best, but when you’re given trash, you can’t spin it into gold.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1
—JM, age 19 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—Even if you put all of the rude, offensive stuff aside, this movie still sucked. It was so boring, and I just rolled my eyes the whole entire time. So, even if sexual humor doesn’t bother you, I still wouldn’t suggest this movie because it simply isn’t good. With that said, there is a LOT of sexual humor that I personally found offensive. The whole entire movie was counting on it’s rude jokes to redeem itself from the horrible acting, and lame plotline.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Mel, age 16 (Canada)
Comments from non-viewers
NegativeEphesians 5:3—“There must not be a hint of impurity of any kind for God’s people.”
Phillippians 4:8—“Finally brothers, whatever is noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—if anything is praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Galatians 5:19—“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity… orgies and the like. I warn you as I did before, ‘Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.’”
2 Tim 4:3—“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit thier own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what thier itching ears want to hear.”
—Niko, age 32 (USA)