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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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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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