starring Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love
screenplay by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn & Dana Fox
directed by Peter Billingsley
by Ian Pugh Peter Serafinowicz--a creepy, irony-free Christopher Walken prototype who appears to have strolled in from a different movie entirely--keeps Couples Retreat out of the running for Worst Film of 2009. What is it with these romantic comedies, exactly, that the characters left in orbit are always crafted with more care and love than the ones with whom you're forced to spend the most time? I look at this latest trainwreck of clichés and I can only see it as director and former child star Peter Billingsley's payback for being trapped in the amber of A Christmas Story and Hershey's Syrup commercials in the decades since. A few ill-placed dick jokes are there to force the medicine down--call it the equivalent of Bob Saget's stand-up career. To be fair, early trailers featuring adulterous parking-lot trysts seem to indicate that test screenings may have taken some substantial bite out of the filmmakers' original intentions. But even with that in mind, this is still the kind of film that saves a few moments for the lead character's precocious toddler (Colin Baiocchi), who, like an ersatz Olsen twin, regurgitates whatever elementary dialogue is fed to him. This is also the kind of film that saves the same little urchin for the last image before the credits, as he takes a shit in a display toilet. Coo and scream with laughter where appropriate--and realize that whatever the movie's original intentions might have been, it's doubtful that a few backseat hump sessions would have tied them together.