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Couples Retreat: typical gender-role comedy 

Jason Bateman's sinister turn worth the price of admission.

Four couples head to French Polynesia (Eden, in the film) to rediscover and reaffirm their love and desire for one another. Reductive “guys hate feelings/girls hate being ignored� comedy ensues and yet, I didn’t hate it. Couples Retreat, with stars Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau and Kristen Bell, has plenty wrong with it, including director Peter Billingsley’s disconcerting lack of concern for the usual pleasures of wan romantic comedies: art direction and cloying music cues. But the things right about it are worth recommending on their own merits: the unstoppable Ken Jeong’s winking delivery and a sly tweak of Jason Bateman’s tightly wound persona. He’s usually harried and put-upon, but here he proves those qualities can have a controlling, sinister and significantly less sympathetic edge.
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Vol 26, No 42
March 14, 2019

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