Saturday, October 10, 2009

Couples Retreat

This November I have been married for 30 years. That is more than half of my life. I still like to date my wife; I have never stopped dating her. I know that sounds weird for a lot of people, but it is a fact, not an idea, a fact. Yesterday I wanted to take her out on another date, but I was confused as I made plans for the date. I let her know, I would plan it all, I would work out the details, and it was my treat for her.

At the time I started looking for local concerts, there was only one show I considered, then, I looked at the movies, I thought well there is only one new movie opening this weekend, but I could take her to Zombieland. I checked out a variety of options and didn’t really know what I was going to do, outside of taking her to one of the nicest steak houses in Wichita, Chester’s. It is an expensive steak house, but thankfully I know the joy of having friends who bless me every now and then. A friend had given us a substantial gift certificate a while back and while we had used it once, we had plenty left to eat there again. Needless to say, the date started out very nicely.

I decided after we finished eating to take her to the movie. We arrived at one of the largest, nicest theaters in the country just a few blocks away, The 13th Street Warren. Upon getting to the ticket window at 6:30 I noticed Zombieland didn’t start until 7:15 but another movie, a new release, Couples Retreat started at 7:00, I decided to go ahead and take a chance and see a movie I wasn’t that excited about. I am glad I did, because this movie turned date night into more than that, it turned it into a wonderful evening with my wife, and what will be a wonderful evening with any couple thinking about marriage, or any couple who is already married.

Couples Retreat is a new film with a terrific ensemble cast. The movie focuses on four married couples who on a whim, decide to take a couples retreat to try and help with the marriage problems of one of the four couples. The plan is to go to this wonderful vacation spot, and while one couple works on their relationship, the other three couples will enjoy themselves and have fun. Upon their arrival at the vacation resort, known as Eden the couples quickly learn, there is a difference between Eden East, and Eden West. The resort is actually broken up into various sections attempting to accomplish various purposes. In order for the couples to remain at Eden, they all have to engage in a sort of marriage counseling. While this only lasts a couple of hours a day, with early morning sessions, the couples find themselves engaging in and reacting to the efforts of the camp counselors and especially the teachings of Marcel, played by brilliant character actor, Jean Reno. Through the time at the vacation resort, each couple learns the importance of not only developing loving relationships, but also maintaining them.

While Couples Retreat is a bit quirky at times, it is a refreshing presentation of the importance of maintaining love in a relationship, and the importance of working to maintain marital relationships. In short, I so appreciated the efforts of this film that I can’t help but recommending it to all married couples. It does everything a movie like this should, it has you laughing, thinking and for those who are married, thinking about applying needed principals to maintain a loving relationship in your own relationship. For those doing things the right way, it also is a refreshing breath of fresh air in that it lets you know that some in society, some in the film making industry, understand the value of a good marital relationship. While there are things that need to be worked on by each character we see characters we can relate to no matter who you are. In seeing the progression in each character, we see, and in some ways, relate to what we can do to maintain those things in our own lives.

Couples Retreat was somewhat surprising in a number of ways. One of the most enjoyable things was seeing Vince Vaughn return to a more straight and serious role. He shows his ability as one of the top actors in movies. Don’t get me wrong, there are some scenes that are so funny the audience is roaring in laughter. The yoga session in the movie had me laughing so hard I had to use the napkin from the popcorn to wipe tears away. There are ample moments of humor but it is far more than a straight comedy. It is a form of marital therapy for each individual in a unique, enjoyable, thought provoking way.

On the issue of marriage, I have to make additional comment here. In an industry, “Hollywood,” it is refreshing to see a movie take on the seriousness of marriage, and portray it as something of value, worth trying to save. In a world where the lack of commitment seems to be the norm, this is a message we could all take in and see the value of. Movies sometimes portray things we have to search for to find value in, Couples Retreat is not such a movie, the values portrayed in this movie are in your face, and I for one, appreciated that.

While this isn’t technically a great movie, it is a very good, fun, entertaining movie that I would recommend people see, especially those with marital issues. It is possible; even likely, that many who see this movie will have enough things brought to their attention that some marriages will actually be saved. I don’t think that is a grandiose idea, I think that is a reality. When is the last time we thought about a movie having that dramatic of an impact on people? Couples Retreat is such a movie.

A few years ago I coined the term hepiloguej for the film sequence that occurs after the movie. Couples Retreat has a hepiloguej, stick around until after the credits if you want to see the entire movie.

Now my last note, I am glad, even would say I was uniquely blessed by yesterday’s events. I had a great meal given as a gift from a friend, and I had a great marriage enriching evening with my wife at a wonderful movie that helped us both realize, we love each other as much today as we did some 30 years ago when we exchanged our vows, heck I would go so far as to say we love each other more. A movie, Couples Retreat helped reinforce the good things, and brought to our attention the things we need to continue to work on. A movie could do this? Well for this one movie reviewer, it did just that.

On a scale of 1 – 10, for the 8 individuals going to Bora Bora, and ultimately finding love, I give a very enjoyable, entertaining 8.

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