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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Couples Retreat

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Though much of its action is set at an idyllic island getaway in the South Pacific, the mostly dull, sexually wayward marital comedy "Couples Retreat" (Universal/Relativity) is hardly a visit to paradise.

Before reaching the safe shore of its morally acceptable, fidelity-affirming wrap-up, viewers have to endure waves of constantly suggestive, occasionally smutty humor and a tide of New Age psychobabble.

Presiding over the resort—where the usual recreational activities are interspersed with sessions of hippy-dippy marriage therapy—is French-born free spirit Marcel (Jean Reno). Impressed by Marcel's reputation as a renowned "couples whisperer," suburbanites Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell), whose bond has been strained by their infertility and by the round of treatments they've been pursuing to remedy it, are certain that he alone can salvage their union.

But the pair can only afford Marcel's luxurious retreat at a group rate, so they cajole a few of their friends to join them on the journey with the promise—false as it turns out— that the others can skip the relationship repair work and spend all their time chasing fun in the sun.

Since Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman) believe themselves to have a perfectly happy marriage, and since Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) want to conceal the fact that they're about to split, they're chagrined to be told, shortly after arrival, that everyone must participate in analysis or they will all—Jason and Cynthia included—be sent packing.

As for Shane (Faizon Love), he's equally put out, since he's already separated from his wife and has his recently acquired, much younger girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk) in tow.

Predictably, first-time director Peter Billingsley's debut sees its ensemble of characters rediscovering their love for each other or learning to work harder at being good spouses. But Marcel's method, which rests on concepts like connecting with your inner animal spirit, and features sessions of yoga and massage played for blue humor, is obviously not a credible substitute for faith as a basis for lifelong commitment.


The film contains strong sexual content, including brief but aberrant adulterous activity, fleeting nongraphic sexual activity within marriage, a flash of rear nudity, many sexually themed jokes, and some crude and much crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

***
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.




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Catherine of Siena: The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. 
<p>She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. </p><p>She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. </p><p>Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope </p><p>In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. </p><p>Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in <i>The Dialogue</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. Gates of sin melt in the presence of saving grace; gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life; gates of falsehood collapse in the presence of living truth; gates of violence are flattened in the presence of divine love. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped his Church.

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