Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tropic Blunder

It’s axiomatic that an exotic tropical setting will not save a bad movie.

In Couples Retreat, written by the
Swingers team of Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, the best moments come before its four couples arrive at their island paradise. Hyper-organized Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell), troubled by infertility, persuade their friends, via an amusing Power Point presentation, to join them at Eden West, a partnership-renewal retreat. The other couples — Joey and Lucy (Favreau and Kristin Davis), Dave and Ronnie (Vaughn and Malin Akerman) and divorced Shane (Faizon Love) and 20-year-old girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk) — are compelled to participate in therapy and absurd activities like swimming in shark-infested waters and yoga that involves a hunky instructor dry-humping the ladies. The high point in lowness is the scene in which Favreau tries to connive a masseuse into giving him "full release." Embarrassing!

What might have been an amusing domestic comedy or sharp satire of marriage-therapy schemes disintegrates into a scattershot collection of unfunny, unsexy sex jokes and curiously stale references (Fabio, Chewbacca, Mr. Belvedere) by a largely charisma-free cast. Vaughn and Favreau reverse their
Swingers roles, with Vaughn playing the nice, devoted husband who, in one of the funny male-banter scenes that are the movie’s saving grace, warns Favreau’s horny Joey that if he keeps chasing tail, he’ll end up eating alone at Applebee’s. A mildly funny jape, but hardly worth the price of admission, or the two hours or so you'll never retrieve.

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