It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Couples Retreat" tells the story of four troubled couples and how they're healed by sitcom formulas. Why are they troubled? Because the script says so. It contains little comedy, except for free-standing one-liners, and no suspense, except for the timing of the obligatory reconciliation. It doesn't even make you think you'd like to visit its island paradise.
The couples are apparently all from Buffalo Grove, which supplies nothing visual except for a T-shirt. Three of them think they're reasonably happy, but their friends Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) beg them to join them for a week at a resort devoted to healing relationships (if four couples go, it's half price).
Jason and Cynthia are anguished because they haven't had a child. The other couples are Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman); Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis), and Shane (Faizon Love) and Trudy (Kali Hawk). Their troubles: (1) Parenting duties distract from romance; (2) Joey's wandering eye; (3) Shane has split from wife and is dating a 20-year-old bimbo.
They fly to the Eden resort, which uses locations on Bora Bora, a truly enchanted place that's reduced to the beach-party level. Eden is run by Monsieur Marcel (Jean Reno), a martial-arts mystic, and managed by Cstanley (Peter Serafinowicz), who explains his name is spelled with a "C." Other staff include Salvadore (Latin pop singer Carlos Ponce), doubling for a model on the cover of a lesser romance novel.