Netflix Instant Streaming Selection of the Week: Marriage Retreat

Back in September, Netflix enforced a DVD + streaming price hike. In the onslaught of bad press and an outraged customer base, the service lost one million subscribers. For those who preferred the mailed DVDs to the streaming content, it seems the time has come to choose one or the other (or, you know, pay the new fee).

While complaints have been lodged that the streaming content is sorely lacking in quality titles, we at Blursto would like to argue the contrary. In fact, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and maybe everyone is just looking at this the wrong way.

Admittedly, the instant streaming movie selection leaves a lot to be desired.[1] New releases more or less don't exist, with most of the selection being older classics and under-the-radar B-movies. If
you're looking for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (and let's face it, you probably are) you're shit out of luck.

But the beauty of Instant Streaming lies in the very films we bitch about having to scroll past. Have you really taken a good look at some of the shit you can watch?

If you have, there's a good chance you've read some of the descriptions, laughed, and kept browsing. We here at Blursto want to help you. We want to let you know which of these movies (if any) are worth watching. With considerable regret, we dig deep and sit down with Marriage Retreat.

Title: Marriage Retreat

Director: David de Vos

Stars: Jeff Fahey, David A.R. White, Anna Zielinski, Victoria Jackson, Logan White, Tommy Blaze, Matthew Florida, Caroline Choi, and Reginald VelJohnson

Netflix Synopsis: In this faith-based tale, three unhappily married couples head to a mountain retreat, where they are subjected to unorthodox and seemingly comical methods by Dr. Sullivan (Jeff Fahey) and his wife, Katrina (Victoria Jackson).

If you stopped reading once you got past 'faith-based tale,' I wouldn't blame you. Hell, [2] I did pretty much the same thing when I first came across this snoozer. But after a few more
minutes of browsing, I kept coming back to it. Surely nothing could be worse. 'Faith-based tales' aren't exactly held in high regard, and I'm not particularly religious in the first place. Regardless (perhaps obviously), I had to watch Marriage Retreat.

Did I regret it? Yes, yes I did.

This movie is, in a word, boring. And not just because of the subject matter (though that doesn't help--marriage counseling movies suck more often than not), this is just fucking boring. None of the characters are interesting, none of their problems are specific enough to care about, and even the setting is generic.

I honestly don't know where to start, mostly because I don't remember much of the movie. That's not a testament to my laziness, either. I watched it twice. How is that for forgettable? It was hard to sit through once, even tougher twice. I assume I'll come around to it the third time.

As the Netflix synopsis stated, the movie follows three couples: Mark and Claire (David A.R. White and Logan White--real life couple bonus), Bobby and Melody (Tommy Blaze [3] and Caroline Choi) and James and Donna (Matthew Florida and Anna Zielinski--AKA the hot couple). [4] All are marginally talented, though I could see Zielinski being in something else, only less pregnant.

Before the couples watch their marriages slowly deteriorate, they are saved by the mystical, piercing blue eyes of Dr. Sullivan (Jeff Fahey). Sullivan is the man with all the answers (though even he has problems too, like how he can't solve other people's), and he lets all of them know. It takes approximately one ten minute meeting for him to crack everyone, and a bit of fairly predictable guidance to get them all back together (spoiler alert).

One can't be surprised, though, as he approaches his job with the steely reserve of a man who's seen a thing or two. He's like the Chuck Norris of marriage counselors.[5] His wife, Katrina (Victoria Jackson) helps out here and there, occasionally dropping bombs of wisdom on the moronic couples. While Jackson has apparently always been religious, this is a stark departure from SNL. They work through their issues, blah blah blah, everyone is happy.

It's fitting that a movie with such a boring storyline would have an equally uninteresting visual aesthetic. Low production values ($2 million budget, half of which was likely used for Reginald VelJohnson's cameo [6]) leave the film looking like a soft-core porno. Imagine a Skinemax movie (minus the fucking) that's sponsored by Hanes.

The generic campsite backdrop also makes no attempt to capture your attention, more or less completing the cycle. There is absolutely nothing interesting about this movie. Except maybe Jeff Fahey's piercing blue eyes melting another cynical heart with a little help from his homeboy Jesus. [7]

Verdict: It's tough to say a movie is good when the best part is a cameo by Carl Winslow, and I won't. Save yourself the 90 minutes and watch something else. It's not even enjoyable on an ironic level.
...Which is saying something. Skip it.

One Word Description: Broad.

--Matthew Ludtke

[1] Though the same cannot be said for their selection of television shows. For now, at least, the selection is pretty badass.

[2] Pun intended.

[3] I really can't get over that. He's not a rapper, a celebrity chef OR a weed dealer. He doesn't even have his own barbecue sauce (though he should). Crazy.

[4] Not wanting to have kids, gambling addiction, ignoring pregnant wife because of a job on a soap opera, respectively. Yeah.

[5] I didn't want to compare him to Chuck, but it's not just a simple "he's really good at what he does" kind of thing. He actually reminds me of Chuck Norris. His Zen-like power screams it. Plus they kind of look alike, minus the ginger beard.

[6] Worth every penny.

[7] I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't include it somewhere. David A.R. White looks like a bizarro version of Trey Parker, if he got stretched out or something. It's fucking distracting. Make a fart joke! Be political! Or funny! C'mon, David.


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