The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

Marriage Retreat Movie Could be so Much More

Marriage Retreat is another straight-to-DVD release by Pure Flix Entertainment who seems to be spitting out new faith-based movies left and right. The promotional poster for this flick makes it appear to be movie full of crazy highjinks and could potentially hurt it to build an audience. It’s a much better film than it appears to be, but it’s not as good as it could be. It wants to be a tamer version of 2009’s Couple’s Retreat.

Jeff Fahey (ABC’s Lost) and Victoria Jackson (NBC’s Saturday Night Live) lead a cast of misfits through a marital counseling weekend at a mountain retreat center. The two play Craig and Katrina Sullivan, a married couple who help other couples with their own marriages. After the Sullivan’s speak at a church service, they recruit three couples to a challenging weekend:

Mark and Claire Bowman: 
Real-life couple, David A. R. White and Logan White portrays the Bowmans. Claire desperately wants a baby – Mark desperately does not. To add fuel to the fire, both of them are keeping a secret from one another.

James and Donna Harlow: 
Real-life couple, Matthew Florida and Anna Zielinski portrays the Harlows. James is a struggling actor who has just made his big break playing a doctor in soap opera. Donna, a successful doctor, is eight and half months pregnant with the couple’s first child. The two hardly have time for one another and struggle knowing how they will find time to raise a child.

Bobby and Melody Castle: 
Bobby (Comedian Tommy Blaze) not only has a gambling problem, but has a problem with his hard to please wife (Caroline Choi) who was raised within a very strict Korean family.

The troupes arrive on scene and are less than impressed with the accommodations and the camp’s rules. The men and women are split up into different cabins, they each have to surrender their cell phones and use of the camp computer is off limits. Each couple is challenged to face their troubles head on and the Sullivan’s have their hands full.

Marriage Retreat is not a goofy film as one would suspect, but it doesn’t live up to its potential either. It’s pretty formulaic with no real surprises. The film is rated G, making it a suitable for all ages, but it shies away from material that would be more appropriate for a story about marriages. The subject of sex doesn’t come up at all, even though it is obvious that none of these couples are getting any. Fahey is very believable as the leader of this bunch. He and Jackson make a good, non-perfect but loving couple. Jackson appears however to be sleepwalking through this movie. Her comedic talent is almost completely wasted. 
Marriage Retreat does have some good messages and would be a good film to use alongside a marriage-based Bible study or maybe even a pre-marital counseling ministry, but it could have been so much more.

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