Couples Retreat doesn't give much to care about

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Starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. Rated PG. Opens Friday, October 9

Miss those long-gone reruns of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island? Try booking passage on Couples Retreat. It’s the story of four couples who travel to a tropical paradise for a week of fun, sun, and relationship counselling. Directed by former child actor Peter Billingsley, the whole thing feels like a stale premise that’s been half-heartedly updated with a few recent cultural references. There’s even a yoga instructor (Carlos Ponce) who works hard to channel the muscle-bound narcissism of Fabio. He gets it right. But so what?


Watch the trailer for Couples Retreat.

To be fair, the moderate laughs come cheap but fast. And there’s something about the wasted frat-boy aura of costars Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau—who also collaborated on the script—that comes across as shabbily endearing. Still, there’s little doubt that the lean and hungry hipsters Vaughn and Favreau played in Swingers would have delighted in trashing Couples Retreat as a totally uncool cash grab.

The characters here are stock creations from start to finish. There’s Dave and Ronnie (Vaughn and Malin Akerman), the loving couple who’s perfectly content to let the obligations of work and family lure them into a comfortable rut. They’re best friends with Joey and Lucy (Favreau and Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis), high-school sweethearts who are both itching to cheat on each other. Then there’s Shane (Faizon Love), recently divorced, he’s trying to keep up with a party girl half his age (Kali Hawk).

All of them agree to go on the retreat to support the seriously troubled Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell). But the new-age meanderings of the island’s relationship guru—played with smug relish by Jean Reno—has a way of pushing everybody’s buttons. The problem? We don’t really care how any of these people end up.

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