x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Couples Retreat

Unfortunately, the magnificent setting of Bora Bora can't save this movie from bad writing and feeble jokes.

Beware Hollywood comedies made in exotic holiday destinations. It's just a rule of thumb, but it does seem that there's some correlation between the desirability of a vacation hotspot and the readiness of filmmakers to sign up for a project regardless of how thin the screenplay may be. In this case the locale is Bora-Bora, and Vaughn and Favreau, also double up as co-writers. Believe me, this is nowhere near the calibre of their previous collaborations, Swingers and Made.

This time Vaughn is Dave. He's allowed the romance to drift out of his marriage to Ronnie (Ackerman) and he doesn't seem to care, but his buddy Joey (Favreau) is positively itching for a little something on the side, and their pal Shane (Love) has already left his wife and moved on to a 20-year-old bimbo. The same fate seems in store for Jason (Bateman), but in a last ditch attempt to save their marriage he and Cynthia (Bell) have come up with the perfect getaway: sun, sand and the Pacific ocean, with couples therapy on the side. Against the odds, you might think, they persuade all their friends to come along on a bargain group rate.

Couples Retreat can't decide if it is satirising relationships counseling or exploring suburban marital discord. All of which might be amusing if the characterisations were not so trite and the jokes were not so feeble.