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Couples Retreat


Stars: Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Faizon Love, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis, Kali Hawk, Jean Reno

Director: Peter Billingsley

Or: Couples Bicker. In this colourful but largely laugh-free comedy, three stressed midwestern couples are entertained by a fourth, whose marriage seems headed for the rocks. Jason (Bateman) and Cynthia (Bell) announce they'd like to head for a paradise in the Pacific (actually Bora Bora), where marriage guidance is on the itinerary as well as sun, sand, snorkelling and jet skiing.

They can't afford it, unless they go as a group of eight or more, when it's half price. Joey (Favreau) and Shane (Love) - the obligatory fat guy and obligatory black guy rolled into one; just keep him off the poster, lads - jump at the chance, but work-happy Dave (Vaughn) won't have it until outmanoeuvred by his own kids.

Alas, when they get to this improbable island, they find they all have to obey its rigorous rules. Who would sign up to this? And how long would such a place last? But hey it's a movie. And, after they down a sumptuous first meal, Dave asks 'How bad can it really be?' He's about to find out.

Starts at 6a.m. are followed by beach therapy with Marcel (Reno), extended grilling by odd but aggressive and truly annoying marriage counsellors, who shoot holes in all four relationships, plus the couples assuming obscene 'yoga positions' under the muscular Salvadore (Carlos Ponce) before shivering in a snowstorm sauna. When do they eat?

Things come to a head when Shane's girlfriend (Hawk) decamps from Eden West to Eden East, a resort across the bay for single swingers. The remaining septet, forgetting they have to be up at sunrise for further agony, set out to 'rescue' her.

If you can take the constant yammering of these rather unpleasant and irritating people, wait for the odd colourful caper and appreciate the lush scenery, this could be just your tall Pacific cocktail. Don't bet on it, though.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by efilm.
114 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 11 Oct 2009