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Couples Retreat may not be the first film to mix sun, sand, and relationships, but it may be one of the most earnest: despite its billing as a zany comedy set in a tropical paradise, Peter Billingsley’s star-studded laugher (scripted by co-stars Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau) is devoted to exploring the ins and outs of married life. Its only real competition is Nicholas Stoller’s Judd Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, written by Jason Segel, in which an ostensible gross-out comedy set at a Hawaiian resort becomes a surprisingly intimate look at breakups. So how do they stack up?
Couples in Trouble!
Couples Retreat: A group of married yuppies comes to a beautiful island resort, where Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) want to engage in counseling sessions and the others just want to party. It soon becomes clear that all of them need serious therapy.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Lovesick composer Peter Bretter (Jason Segel), desperate to get over his breakup with Sarah (Kristen Bell, again), comes to a resort to forget his troubles. Alas, Sarah has come to the same resort with her new boyfriend.
Couples Retreat: Shane (Faizon Love) may be an obese loser whose wife has just left him, but he shows up at the retreat with an excitable 20-year-old girlfriend, Trudy (Kali Hawk), who calls him “Daddy.”
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Darald (Jack McBrayer) and Wyoma (Maria Thayer) are newlyweds on their honeymoon. He’s ultrareligious and doesn’t understand sex. She, on the other hand, is active, voluptuous — and might be a bit too much for him.
The Skirt-chasing Cad
Couples Retreat: Although he’s supposedly happily married, Joey (Jon Favreau) arrives at the resort convinced he’s going to get some play with someone other than his wife (Kristin Davis) — be it with the hot young chicks he met on the way over or the resort’s female masseuse.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Sarah’s eccentrically Zen British-rock-star boyfriend, Aldous (Russell Brand), subscribes to a philosophy of sleeping with pretty much every woman he meets.
The Infidelity Factor
Couples Retreat: Pretending to search for wayward Trudy, the men go off to a throbbing rave in search of tail, where they encounter their similarly wayward wives and realize they want to stay married.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Although he’s starting to fall for hotel employee Rachel (Mila Kunis), Peter considers rekindling his relationship with Sarah, only to reject her when he realizes Rachel’s captured his heart.
Those Wacky Resort Employees
Couples Retreat: Eden Resort’s stiff-upper-lip host, Stanley (Peter Serafinowicz), is a judgmental taskmaster and the island’s Guitar Hero champion. Speedo-wearing Salvadore (Carlos Ponce) is a ridiculously well-built yoga instructor who likes to put his clients in compromising positions.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Matthew Van Der Wyk (Jonah Hill) is a waiter at the resort who happens to be obsessed with Aldous. Chuck (Paul Rudd) is a pothead surfing instructor who suffers from a comically short-term memory.
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