BMB – Marriage Retreat – The Church Scene

This post is part of a series called Bad Movie Breakdowns. For more click here.

Welcome back to the ongoing Bad Movie Breakdown of Marriage Retreat. This time we pick up where we left off before. After the narrated intros which supposedly set up our main characters and their backstories, said characters go to church where they “coincidentally” hear a message about marriage. This sets the stage for more cheesy and overly obvious attempts at humor. It also introduces the viewers to the two other Important Characters, Craig and Katrina Sullivan. Let’s take a look:

Some of this clip touches on the positive aspects of this movie, namely the attempt to insert important teaching on marriage as a major theme of the film. However, not surprisingly there are problems with delivery. Church scenes where the sermon is used as exposition or instruction for the viewer is an overused trope in Christian movies. It once again violates the cardinal storytelling mandate, “show don’t tell.” While this sermon sounds good, there are better ways to communicate a message than literally sermonizing at the audience.

Now let’s talk about the Sullivans. Where to begin? How about with the casting decision. Were Jeff Fahey and Victoria Jackson really the best choices for the spiritual leader mentor couple? I get that these characters were supposed to be quirky and off beat or something but this is just not executed well. Too many comedies rely on silly looking odd characters to get laughs. It is just another juvenile tactic that this movie embraces in its quest to be funny.

On that note the obnoxious hand raising bit really falls flat. It is difficult to see how that gag is supposed to illicit a laugh. Instead it feels like the writers are picking low hanging fruit when writing these sort of “jokes” into a marriage movie. How about trying something original and witty that is also funny instead?

Unfortunately the awkwardness continues in the next clip:

Oh boy… Is this stuff even supposed to be funny? Is anyone actually laughing at this? The line about being satisfied in her marriage because she is a widow is so odd I don’t even know how to comment on it. The muted, polite laughter from the church congregation is about the reaction this line is going to get from the movie audience. The bizarre lines continue when Matthew Florida exhibits his awkward line delivery of more poorly written “jokes.” Again I don’t even know why Craig’s shout out to James made the editor’s cut because it certainly adds nothing to the movie. Some may think I am nitpicking but these sort of non funny bits start to pile up and really make the viewer wonder whether much work went into this script writing.

The Christian movie scene needs good comedies that are actually funny and edifying in order to compete with the nonsense coming out of Hollywood comedies. It is really disappointing when Christians don’t do any better. Some think that Christians can’t be funny because there are unwilling to be crude enough for laughs. I don’t believe this is true but what is true is that most Christian movies are not funny (at least not in the way they were intended to be) and that is sad. I want to be laughing along with the writers here but instead I find myself laughing at the absurdity of the dialogue and how bad of a job they did on this movie.



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