Couples Retreat (15)



Comedy (2009)
113mins US

Starring: Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Vince Vaughn, Faizon Love, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Tasha Smith, Kali Hawk
Director: Peter Billingsley
Writer(s): Dana Fox, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Jason and his wife Cynthia are contemplating a divorce and they decide to give the relationship one last shot by attending the tropical resort of Eden, which offers seminars and workshops for married couples to rebuild love and trust. They invite along their best friends Dave and Ronnie, Joey and Lucy and Shane and Trudy to join them at the resort but there is a catch: all four couples must take part in the series to question their teamwork and compatibility.

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LondonNet Film Review
Couples Retreat

Love is a battlefield - and in Peter Billingsley's vapid comedy, penned by Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Dana Fox, enemy lines are drawn on one of the most beautiful locations on the planet...

(L to R) Cynthia (KRISTEN BELL), Ronnie (MALIN AKERMAN) and Lucy (KRISTIN DAVIS) greet yoga instructor Salvadore (CARLOS PONCE) in Couples Retreat. Photo Credit: John Johnson. Copyright: © 2009 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.Filmed on the remote Pacific Ocean island of Bora Bora, part of French Polynesia, Couples Retreat is a flimsy excuse for best buddies Vaughn and Favreau to enjoy a free holiday with some of their acting mates. Our entertainment is a secondary concern. Their script is so malnourished of chuckles, let alone belly-laughs, that you could fairly categorise Billingsley's film as a drama, especially with all of the therapy sessions in which the titular couples work through the kinks in their relationships. Counselling is no sniggering matter, certainly not here, and to rub salt into our wounds, the screenwriters have the gall to resolve all of the underlying tensions, hurt and resentment for a 'happy ever after' finale. A protracted sequence involving a skimpily-dressed yoga instructor (Carlos Ponce) thrusting inappropriately against married clients drags on far too long. So too does the most shameless piece of product placement in recent memory, contriving a centrepiece around a music-themed video game.

Jason (Jason Bateman) and his wife Cynthia (Kristin Bell) are contemplating divorce and they decide to give the relationship one last shot by attending the tropical resort of Eden, which offers seminars for married couples to rebuild love and trust. "It's got fun, it's got sun, it's like Disneyland for adults," Cynthia tells their social circle: Dave (Vaughn) and wife Ronnie (Malin Akerman); Joey (Jon Favreau) and wife Lucy (Kristin Davis); and Shane (Faizon Love) and new girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk). Cynthia invites the three couples to join her and Jason on the "Pelican Package" group rate. While the potential divorcees rebuild their relationship, the friends can enjoy the jet-skis, diving and exquisite dining. When the four couples arrive, they quickly discover that there is a catch. "You either partake of the entire package, or have none of it," instructs po-faced guide Stanley (Peter Serafinowicz). So the entire group take parts in a programme of challenges designed by the enigmatic Monsieur Marcel (Jean Reno).

JASON BATEMAN, KRISTEN BELL, JON FAVREAU, MALIN AKERMAN, VINCE VAUGHN, KRISTIN DAVIS and FAIZON LOVE are Jason, Cynthia, Joey, Ronnie, Dave, Lucy and Shane in Couples Retreat. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures. Copyright: © 2008 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.Couples Retreat is lots of filthy-minded pillow talk and the occasional heartfelt exchange between eight characters, who fail to communicate with us and with each other. All of the navel-gazing rings hollow, and we don't believe for a moment that such shallow, two-dimensional people will absorb the bombardment of life lessons. We feel nothing for these lovebirds as they blunder from misunderstanding to reconciliation, and find ourselves wholeheartedly agreeing with Jason when he dismisses Shane's new flirtation thus: "It's been two weeks. It's not a relationship, it's an antibiotic cycle." Vaughn and Favreau's barrage of wisecracks is tiresome, and we focus instead on the picture-postcard locales, captured beautifully by cinematographer Eric Alan Edwards. There's trouble in paradise.

- Kim Hu


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