THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE (Cert 12, 103 mins), Entertainment In Video, Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99
Starring: Rachel McAdams, Eric Bana, Ron Livingston, Stephen Tobolowsky, Brooklynn Proulx, Jane McLean.
CHICAGO librarian Henry DeTamble (Bana) first discovers he suffers from chrono-displacement genetic disorder as a five-year-old, when his ability to time travel saves him from a fatal car crash.
Unwilling to forge lasting emotional connections, Henry meets a beautiful artist called Clare (McAdams), who reveals, “I’ve known you since I was six years old and you appeared in the meadow behind my parents’ house.” Fulfilling destiny, Henry and Clare fall in love and share his extraordinary secret with their friend Gomez (Livingston) and his wife Charisse (McLean). Henry and Clare try to conceive but his genetic quirks result in numerous miscarriages, so they turn in desperation to geneticist Dr David Kendrick (Tobolowsky) for guidance. Based on the bestseller by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife recounts a heartbreaking romance between two people who were preordained to fall in love. Robert Schwentke’s film wrings almost as many tears as the book, building to a harrowing finale that proves while love defies class, religion, age and social status, it cannot completely transcend time.
THE UGLY TRUTH (Cert 15, 92 mins), Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Comedy, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £21.99
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Eric Winter, John Michael Higgins, Cheryl Hines.
ABBY (Heigl) is a talented producer on a morning television show fronted by feuding husband-and-wife team Larry (Higgins) and Georgia (Hines), who cannot find a man to win her heart.
Her negative perception of the male of the species is enforced by the arrival of chauvinistic guest commentator Mike Chadway (Butler), who makes a bold claim: By following his directions, Abby can seduce handsome next-door neighbour, Colin (Winter). The producer nervously agrees to become Mike’s protege, and as his out-dated theories reap rewards, the chauvinist realises that Abby could be the woman of his dreams too.
The Ugly Truth is as reassuringly predictable as it is unexpectedly potty-mouthed with a voracious appetite for sex talk that marks out the film as distinctly adult fare.
The new romantic comedy from director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Monster-In-Law) is uproariously funny in places and politically incorrect to the point of offensiveness in others, building to a contrived denouement that will surprise no one, apart from female viewers who may flinch at the underlying message that a woman should flaunt her cleavage and leave her brain in a make-up bag to land her dream man.
COUPLES RETREAT (Cert 15, 109 mins), Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99
Starring: Jason Bateman, Kristin Bell, Vince Vaughn, Malin Akerman, Jon Favreau, Kristin Davis, Faizon Love, Kali Hawk, Peter Serafinowicz, Jean Reno, Carlos Ponce.
JASON (Bateman) and his wife Cynthia (Bell) are contemplating a divorce and they decide to give their relationship one last shot by attending the tropical resort of Eden, which offers seminars for married couples to rebuild love and trust.
The couple’s loved-up friends – Dave (Vaughn) and wife Ronnie (Akerman); Joey (Favreau) and wife Lucy (Davis) and Shane (Love) and new girlfriend Trudy (Hawk) – join Jason and Cynthia in paradise, only to discover from po-faced guide Stanley (Serafinowicz) that they must all take part in the workshops. Begrudgingly, the entire group takes parts in a programme of challenges designed by the enigmatic Monsieur Marcel (Reno), sometimes with painful consequences.
Couples Retreat is lots of filthy-minded pillow talk and the occasional heartfelt exchange between eight characters, who fail to communicate with us and with each other. All of the navel-gazing rings hollow, and we don’t believe for a moment that such shallow, two-dimensional people will absorb the bombardment of life lessons.
We feel nothing for these lovebirds as they blunder from misunderstanding to reconciliation. Their script is so malnourished of chuckles, let alone belly laughs, that you could fairly categorise Peter Billingsley’s film as a drama, especially with all of the therapy sessions in which the titular couples work through the kinks in their relationships.