In Universal Pictures’ Couples Retreat, Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell are frantic to save their marriage and think counseling is the best option. However, conventional treatment isn’t exactly what their characters are looking for. They’re desperate to try out an intense couples therapy group in Bora Bora, but they can’t afford it on their own so they convince their friends to tag along.
The movie was shot on the exotic island and as we soon found out, the actors had quite a time on location.
Q: Did Faizon Love really make you inspect his penis?
Jason Bateman: No, I elected to inspect his penis.
Kristen Bell: I was the only one that didn’t look. Why? Because I have respect. Okay? (Laughs)
Q: If you would have respected him, you would have looked.
Bell: No. You know what? My side of the street is clean. I didn’t want to get involved with that. He chose not to wear a jock strap.
Bateman: It was tremendous. (Laughs)
Q: Why did you ask to see his penis?
Bateman: Just pure curiosity.
Q: Was your curiosity satisfied after?
Bateman: Ah, what does the word manhole cover mean to you? (Laughs) I mean, we’re talking here, aren’t we?
Q: He almost showed us.
Bateman: Did he show it to you? He’s proud. And he should be. (Laughs)
Bell: Well, you would know.
Bateman: Oh yeah. So is Kali Hawk. She was a little surprised. (Laughs)
Q: You worked with director Peter Billingsley a long time ago?
Bateman: Peter and I did a very special episode “Little House on the Prairie” together. He guest-starred as young Gideon, who had a stuttering problem. I befriended young Gideon and, in a moment of weakness, made fun of his stutter to a group of friends of mine. He overheard this. His feelings were hurt. I had to run and chase him. I had to put out the fire and say sorry. And just good lessons.
Bell: Lesson learned by everyone at “Little House” I think.
Q: Why were you making pudding in Bora Bora, which is what we were told?
Bell: First of all, who told you that?
Q: Our sources tell us.
Bell: Well, I like food.
Bateman: She’s a snack pack. (Laughs)
Bell: I do. I like snacks especially. I was concerned about the food in Bora Bora, and so I packed a lot of snacks. I rationed them out, and I in particular enjoy butterscotch pudding. So I knew that all I needed was water and a mini fridge, both of which I had in Bora Bora, in my contract. (Laughs) And I made little dishes of pudding, and we had them for dessert.
Q: So you’re nothing like your character then?
Bateman: No, everyone was like the mercantile. They all would go by and ask her for little treats and stuff. You were a big hit.
Bell: I brought granola bars. I also brought games.
Bateman: I actually wanted to talk to you, literally
Bell: I’m bringing the Diamond Edition. Don’t even worry about it.
Bateman: No, I was wondering what kind of snacks you’re going to bring for tonight.
Bell: Well, I’m going to go right after this. Although, I’m not going to bring as many as I did before because we’re not
Bateman: Going to be there for five weeks?
Bell: And we’re not on crew food. It’s the up-and-running-hotel kind of food if you know what I’m saying. But I do travel with a lot of snacks.
Q: Do you ever give them to the people you like?
Bell: Of course. Yeah, if you’re really nice to me.
Bateman: She’s cute.
Bell: Thank you. Thanks Jas. You can have some pudding. (Laughs) I brought games. I brought Trivial Pursuit. I brought Scrabble. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Diamond Edition, but it is a foldable, hardcover briefcase version of Scrabble, and it literally folds up onto itself. There’s a handle; you fold it out, and that’s the board. It’s extremely convenient.
Bateman: It always raised a flare with the security guys at the airport though. (Laughs) What’s in the case?
Q: Going back to the snacks, is it just because you’re concerned about the food at wherever you’re traveling to or you’re just really super health conscious?
Bell: Both. And I just like to have snacks at all times. I wasn’t sure if that would be available to me.
Bateman: Fat ass likes to eat. (Laughs)
Bell: Yeah. No, I really do like snacks, and I like the comfort foods. So I packed granola bars, Power Bars, Luna Bars and those kinds of things.
Q: That’s comfort food?
Bell: Well, it’s food that I’m comfortable eating. It’s not necessarily comfort food, but I like knowing what I’m eating. I don’t like mystery dishes. But, by the end, I had cleared my fridge out, and I was literally bribing Amanda [Anka] to give me Franny [Nora Bateman]’s Cheerios. Because his wife had brought a lot of cereal for their daughter, and we were all, “Just give me a Cheerio.” (Laughs) There were days when, because it was so hot, the food they were preparing was a little too heavy and salty and creamy.
Q: Were you guys getting stir crazy by the end?
Bateman: I was surprisingly not. I’m very much not into leaving my house, and I couldn’t believe how comfortable I was there at the end. Maybe I’d sort of gone over the fail-safe point. Or maybe it was just the fact that we were staying at the nicest place in the world.
Bell: In the world.
Bateman: It really was just embarrassingly luxurious for us.
Q: Peter was talking about how these were couples that Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn had seen. Do you guys have friends like this or couples you know?
Bell: I don’t know a couple that’s this annoying. I do have a lot of friends that are very type A that are very much more efficient and punctual and feel like they have it together. Not like us.
Bateman: I think these are prototypes of these four sort of typical problems that you see a bunch of other couples with. Obviously for a comedy, they’re heightened and exaggerated just a little bit. If you dropped the levels on those, you’d have a drama. Heighten them, and then there’s
Bell: That’s deep.
Bateman: Guys, I’m teaching a class on comedy downstairs. (Laughs) If it bends it’s funny, if it breaks
Q: We were told you had to coax the men into taking their clothes off? That Vince and Jon were a little self-conscious?
Bateman: I don’t think anyone’s ever asked Jon twice to take his shirt off. (Laughs) Vince is as much of a ham as I am. I think he’s knows there’s nothing funny about a six-pack, so his shirt came right off. I’m a safe distance away from a six-pack, so mine came right off. And the fact that we were all pasty white, that was one of the first scenes we shot there, so we were all pretty white. That helped.
Q: You didn’t want to get too tanned for it?
Bateman: Right. We were there maybe three days beforehand, and there was a conversation about watch what you do with your free time on the island before we shoot that scene. Like don’t get sunburn because in the script that’s like the first thing they do when they land on the island. So you can’t look like you’ve been there.
Bell: We’re from Chicago, so we’re not supposed to have a lot of sun.
Bateman: From the dead of winter. So no, I didn’t do any coaxing. I may have given a suggestive eye as they were taking it off, but they just misinterpreted that. (Laughs)
Q: How do you balance the fantasy of a great relationship versus the reality of a relationship which is just some person in your business all of the time?
Bateman: Just for me personally, without boring you to death, my relationship works successfully because my wife is a friend. She was a friend before we got married and continues to be my best friend, and that just works for us. You don’t really mind a friend being in your face all of the time, but you might get bored of a girlfriend being in your face all of the time because girlfriend-boyfriend relationships can be somewhat surface. But friendships are usually a little bit deeper and last a little bit longer. That was my strategy, and it’s worked out pretty well.
Q: You’re in two movies at the moment with “Extract” being the other, and both of the relationships aren’t a joke. You actually care about them. Is that something important to you?
Bateman: No, it’s not necessarily important to me like I want to make sure films I do carry a responsible message. I think it’s more indicative of the brand and the tone of the comedy in those two films. I like humor that comes from character stuff as opposed to just joke stuff and pie in the face kind of humor. So by definition, these are probably real characters with real emotions and real issues, and that perhaps they get so real that people get uncomfortable and from that discomfort comes laughs. I think it’s just a result of that, that these are just tangible, relatable relationships.
Q: What was it like doing the action yoga scenes? Was that at all awkward during rehearsals, or do you do yoga? Kristen, I noticed that you seemed really flexible.
Bell: I am very flexible. I do yoga. Not by any means on a regular basis, but I do rely on some of the stretches to wake me up after a long night of working or in the morning if I’m tired, because the hours on set are sometimes long. The yoga scene was kind of created by who could bend what way, and what would be the funniest. A lot of times in couples yoga or partners yoga there are a lot of very intimate positions, and I think that’s where most of the comedy came from. But I, for one, very much enjoyed watching Jason getting tea-bagged. I had been dreaming about it for quite some time, and I got to see it live.
Bateman: You should have seen my view. Yeah, the elastic on this man’s Speedo was in a bit of failure. The seal was not optimum there against his thigh. I think that it would have triggered a different rating had you shot my point of view. I had plenty to work with, let’s say that, for my reaction. It was not a highlight for me. I was not living my dream, as it were, at that moment.
Q: Did you ever do any R-rated takes, or anything that was a little more off the cuff when you guys were improvising?
Bateman: Yeah, there was tons of R-rated stuff that we shot, and that I thought was hilarious. People smarter than me decide what the rating’s going to be on a film and all the things that go into that. I don’t know what the reasons are behind that, but I would hope that some of it survives for a DVD. But again, I don’t know how that works either. If you sell a PG-13 DVD, can you have R-rated content on the bonus chapters? I don’t know.
Q: How did you like working with Jean Reno?
Bateman: He’s a class act. It’s nice to work with him.
Bell: He is the professional.
Bateman: Yeah, and he did a very nice thing for all of us. What was the name of the film he shot there?
Bell: “The Big Blue.”
Bateman: “The Big Blue,” he shot there way back when at the very same location, and he has stayed in contact all these years with the guy who was the diving instructor for that film. He had him organize a dive for all of us, and he paid for it and took us all out on a boat, and that was when we scuba dived with the sharks, so that was a really classy, cool thing for him to do.
Q: What are you guys working on now? Do you have anything you’re about to shoot or anything upcoming?
Bell: I wrapped a movie Monday called “You Again” for Disney. It’s about a girl who was a geek in high school, moves away from her small town, grows up to come back home and find that her brother is engaged to the mean girl from her high school, and it’s about trying to destroy that union with any and all possible set pieces involved. But I do get to play my high school self, which was pretty fun. There was a lot of prosthetics. There were pussy pimples put on my face, there were glasses, braces and it was really fun. It was a great cast. That’ll be out next September. Then I have “When in Rome” coming out in the end of January.
Bateman: So suck on that.
Couples Retreat will be in theatres on Friday, October 9.