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Learn About the Beautiful Locales of this Comedic Love Story
Finding suitable filming locations for a movie is a crucial element of the movie-making process. The right sets and backgrounds can take the role of secondary characters that help move the story along and give it a more profound sense of realness. The appropriate filming locations can also help the audience find an escape and be transported to wherever the director wants them to go.
It may not be something you think about often but take a second to ponder your favorite movies. Where are they located? Do you feel like you can smell or feel where the film takes place? Do you wish you were right next to the characters in the movie? All good filmmakers will consider where their characters should be and use their surroundings as another character or plot device in their films.
Of course, with CGI and special effects, characters can be transported anywhere that the mind can come up with. Outer space, the inner core of the earth, or in areas of the world that are far too dangerous for humans to be. But utilizing real places can make even the most standard movie seem extraordinary.
A perfect balance for a film is when a great story gets put into a suitable locale. A great example of this is Couples Retreat. We have you covered if you have not seen it or don’t remember the plot. Here is a brief summary of the movie before we get into the filming locations.
A Brief Summary of Couples Retreat
Couple Retreat is a 2009 film that centers around four couples who visit a tropical-island resort for different reasons. The happily married couple with two kids, Dave and Ronnie; the childless and always organized Jason and Cynthia; the married since high school Joey and Lucy and the newly divorced Shane and his brand-new 20-year-old girlfriend, Lucy.
Jason and Cynthia are experiencing marriage issues after years of marital bliss. They ask the other couples to accompany them on vacation together at the Eden Resort utilizing a package rate. The plan is for Jason and Cynthia to go through marriage counseling with the island psychologist. In contrast, the others have some fun in the sun.
Except there is a catch. To be eligible for the couples package, all the couples need to participate in the counseling exercises. The foundations of all the couples are shaken to the core, with some of them realizing they may not be in love or as close as they thought.
First off, the movie is hilarious. Thanks to the comedic performances of Vince Vaughn, Kristen Bell, Jason Bateman, and Jon Favreau. The cast is what makes this film more than just another mediocre romantic comedy. They all legitimately seem like close friends, so when the drama hits, it feels more natural. Another reason why this movie is so great is the breathtaking locales they use.
So, now that everyone knows what the movie is about, let’s discover where the shooting locations for the film were and what made these places so special and vital to the movie’s success.
Filming Locations for Couples Retreat
The St. Regis Bora Bora
There are two parts of the resort that the characters visit in the movie – “Eden East” and “Eden West.” “Eden West” is the part of the island where couples go to throw their inhibitions to the side and have all types of sexy times. “Eden East,” on the other hand, is where couples go to gain the skills to help salvage their relationships or make them stronger.
Both parts of the island were shot at the same resort – The St. Regis Bora Bora, a famous luxury resort located in French Polynesia. The area comprises 121 geographically scattered islands in the South Pacific Ocean. As its name would suggest, France is in possession of France Polynesia and is home to some of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Virtually all of Couples Retreat was shot at the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, minus a few other locales that will be discussed later. Due to its unmatched natural beauty, the resort has been said to be straight out of someone’s dream. The resort is encircled by lagoons filled with various types of fish and other water creatures.
The waters around the resort are the bluest a person could ever see, as you see in the movie. The resort is also home to a barrage of trees unique to the islands in the area and places that feature warmer climates. Coconut trees, banana trees, and the Caribbean pine all offer a sight rarely seen. The tropical wonderland also provides everything from shower spas to villas on top of the water.
Before you plan to work on your relationship in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, you have to know that the couples counseling part of the movie is fictitious. But some of the wedding and honeymoon packages shown in the film are available, so you can seek out some of these stunning locales if you so desire.
Besides the resort found on Leeward Island, many other daytime shots of the couples partaking in activities were taken around the rest of the islands. The Leeward Islands make up the western part of what is known as the Society Islands of French Polynesia.
The islands see upwards of 300 and 500 millimetres of precipitation annually and typically garner 26 and 28º C temperatures. A census conducted back in 2015 shows that the islands’ population was only around 6,500, which makes it a great place to film without bothering the folks who live there.
The islands have seen many movies and television shows shot there, including xXx, Mutiny on the Bounty, Beyond the Reef, Bora Bora, and The Amazing Race.
Now that we’ve discussed the more breathtaking locales used in the movie, we can discuss the additional standard filming locations.
Another important location in the movie is the picturesque waterfall where the ladies run into the sexy yoga instructor, Salvadore. Sadly, this waterfall does not exist on the Bora Bora Island and was filmed in an undisclosed location. So, don’t ask the locals where it is if you ever make it to the island paradise.
A studio was used for most exterior shots, especially ones involving the resort at night and the lagoons. The appropriately named Downey Studios is located in Downey, California, which is located roughly 20 kilometres from Los Angeles. The 320,000 square meter studio features indoor and outdoor production spaces that include a residential street complete with homes and one of the largest indoor water tanks in North America.
The studio has been home to such productions as Iron Man 1 & 2, Pineapple Express, Cloverfield, Zodiac, The Italian Job, Space Cowboys, and The Island. Sadly, if you were looking for a tour of the prestigious studios, you are out of luck. The space was demolished in 2012 and is now home to Promenade at Downey, a large retail center.
Buffalo Grove, Illinois
The scenes of all of the couples before they head to the resort were filmed in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Buffalo Grove is a village in Lake and Cook County, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. It is nestled roughly 50 kilometres northwest of Downtown Chicago.
Although not a lot of mainstream film or television has been shot there, the well-received remake of The Amityville Horror starring Ryan Reynolds was filmed there in 2005. One interesting thing that brings this location back around to Couples Retreat is the fact that Vince Vaughn was actually born in Buffalo Grove!
O’Hare International Airport
For all of the airport scenes in the movie, the well-known O’Hare International Airport was utilized. Located in Chicago, Illinois, the airport first opened its doors to passengers in February of 1944. During the early days of the jet age, O’Hare held the distinction as the busiest airport in the world, and it held that honor until 1998. It is currently the world’s sixth-busiest airport and serves around 83 million passengers annually.
As with Downey Studios, O’Hare International Airport has been the setting for various well-known productions over the decades. Some of its credits include Home Alone 1 & 2, Prison Break, Risky Business, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sleepless in Seattle, and The Amazing Race.
Most of the other scenes not shot at the previously mentioned locations were filmed at the classic Universal Studios, situated at 100 Universal Plaza in Universal City, California. It would be hard to find a movie or television show that you enjoy that hasn’t at least at some point been shot on this lot.
The lot first opened its gates to moviemakers on March 15, 1915, before opening up to the public for tours in 1964. The studios sit on around 400 acres and include more than 30 sound stages and 165 separate structures.
Although reading the list of productions shot at Universal would take up the majority of your day, here are just a few examples of the incredible work done there. Seinfeld, Westworld, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Inception, CSI, Gone Girl, and Jurassic Park.
Unlike Downey Studios, Universal is still going strong. You can tour the studio the next time you make it to the area.
You might be tempted to look at the IMDB rating, or Rotten Tomatoes score for Couples Retreat if you haven’t already. It’s normal to do so, but silly movies like this tend to be underappreciated and misunderstood. Hence the low scores. Besides some of the negative attitudes towards the film, it made $171 million on a $70 million budget, which most people would agree is a success. But Couples Retreat doesn’t deserve all of the negativity that has been attached to the film. It’s a fun movie with a simple concept featuring stunning filming locations and great comedic performances.
So, if you haven’t seen it before or haven’t seen it since it came out, I’d recommend giving it a watch. If not for the plot, then at least for the spectacular blue water and luscious green landscapes.
Question: Where was Couples Retreat filmed?
Answer: Most of the film was shot at the St. Regis Bora Bora resort. The luxury resort is in French Polynesia. Other scenes were shot at Universal Studios as well.
Question: What is Couples Retreat About?
Answer: Couples Retreat centers around four couples who are all friends who agree to go to a resort to utilize a group package deal. They don’t know that part of the deal requires them to all partake in relationship counseling activities.
Question: Who stars in Couples Retreat?
Answer: Couples Retreat has a solid lineup of actors and actresses, including Vince Vaugh, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, and Kristin Davis.
Question: Is Couples Retreat a good movie?
Answer: The film will not end up on any list of the greatest movies of all. Still, the cast is likable, the gorgeous filming locations, and the comedy is relatable and fun.
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