Couples Retreat Review: Escape From Glitch Island

October 11, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

COUPLES RETREAT: On General Release across the UK from Friday 16th October 2009

It’s definitely been the year for the anti-romcom.

(500) Days of Summer showed us what happens when it doesn’t all work out, agonisingly chronicling a break up from the guy’s point of view, while Love Happens had the matter of -gasp- death on its conscience.

Worryingly written by Vince Vaughn with longtime Swingers pal Jon Favreau, Couples Retreat reports from the other side, detailing what comes after “I Do” in all its nauseating glory, though it’s never quite sure who it’s pitching to.Read More…

When Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell)’s marriage hits the skids they decide to head to the paradise Eden, a tropical rehab for strained relationships, and invite their seemingly happily married friends to join them and capitalise on the discounted group rate.

However the resort isn’t the week long doss they’d expected. Eden is a hardcore relationship therapy complex, run by the iron fist of Zen ball-buster Marcel, unfortunately played by Jean Reno.

His performance is a bit like witnessing the demise of the family dog as it hobbles on four bad hips to the realm of irrelevance. Sprightly Fido who once brought you your slippers is now emanating the stench of mortality. It might be time to put him out of his misery. Metaphorically speaking.

We’re invited to eavesdrop on the couple’s daily compulsory stock “therapy”, which predictably reveal the cracks in the otherwise happy couples’ marriages.

While these could be enlightening sessions (to the audience at least) they wind up being plain insulting to anyone in the occupation of psychiatry. The characters are all so one-dimensional, and spout the most contrived dialogue. There’s nothing of any substance here. It turns out: marriage therapy? Not so interesting.

It does start to look like an excuse to wile away a few months on a tropical island with the formality of shooting a movie getting in the way. At least when the relentless chuggery of the movie starts to take its toll there’s something pretty for us to look at.

Meanwhile the constant allure of the Singles’ arm of the resort almost turns Couples Retreat into a celluloid version of Temptation Island, and paints for us a pretty bleak portrait of married life.

This is the future, ladies. While we inexplicably retain our youth, skin tone and svelte figures, our husbands will become overgrown schoolboys desperate to get their end away, inexplicably getting hairier as they bald.

Relief from the charmless sex humour comes in Peter Serafinowicz, who plays the stiff upper-lipped master of ceremonies. He adds a mercifully surreal dimension to proceedings, a welcome distraction from the onslaught of mediocrity.

All in all however, Couples Retreat is as pedestrian as the married life of Eden’s desperate punters.

Leonie Mercedes

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