Although they're the most famous lovers in history, Romeo and Juliet weren't around long enough to discover one basic truth on the subject:
True love gets boring.
Romeo and Juliet's timeless story - coming to life again in a Seabury Hall production directed anew by Cassandra Wormser and reviewed by Sky Barnhart on Page 6 - is known as a tragedy.
But in a way, their grab-your-hankies farewells spare the star-crossed young couple a fate that would be even worse: watching their love fade away in little dribbles, days fading into weeks, weeks into months, months into years, until they're bewildered and angry, nerves and faces pinched into fake tight smiles, wondering what they ever saw in each other in the first place.
That's what has happened to the flockers to "Couples Retreat," the week's box-office winner at the movies. It's billed as a comedy you could have fooled me. As opposed to a lot of people sitting nearby at a recent screening, I was the one not laughing.
It's not like I can't see the joke potential in dysfunctional marriages, infertility, couples counseling, new-age hedonism and simulated sex acts disguised as yoga. Well, actually, maybe I can't. But it would certainly help if the people on screen weren't so annoying.
The guys at least. This Jon Favreau-Vince Vaughn-led project is billing itself as the follow-up to the pair's "Swingers."
I didn't see that 1996 comedy that launched their careers, as a couple of aspiring actors who have better luck as lounge lizards. Or, worse, I can't remember seeing it. I can only imagine the guys were having more fun then. Way more fun.
Despite now having gorgeous wives - Malin Akerman for Vince, "Sex and the City's" Kristin Davis for Jon - they have evolved into the midlife blahs that don't even have enough energy to qualify for what Henry David Thoreau called "lives of quiet desperation."
Things perk up a bit when they are enticed - coerced? - into joining Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell on a trip to one of those tropical resorts with palm trees and umbrellas in the drinks. You know, those places that look a lot more interesting in TV ads targeted at folks unlike us, who don't happen to live in an actual tropical paradise 24/7.
For folks on Maui, settings like the film's ficticious "retreat" look more like the places we go to work each day.
Jason and Kristen have more pressing marital problems, beginning with that old movie staple: infertility. For them, the tropical retreat is their last chance; they need to bring their friends along to qualify for the group rate. Rounding out the group is roly-poly Faizon Love, trying to get over his recent divorce by hooking up with a new partner young enough to be taken literally when she calls him "Daddy."
By now you're probably beginning to sense what passes for comedy in "Couples Retreat." Even before they arrive on the island, you know there's going to be uncomfortable couples counseling, sexual yoga and unrequited longing to be over in the singles retreat right across the lagoon.
Ironically, the film's female stars are no strangers to this tropical comedy territory, Malin Akerman in the painful "The Heartbreak Kid," Kristin Davis in the "Sex and the City" movie and Kristin Bell in the best of the bunch, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."
This all contributes to the sense of deja vu you get watching this new cast follow the same footprints in the sand. Maybe the familiarity is comforting for the audiences who shot the movie to the top of the charts - it's like TV, you provide the laugh track.
Comedy has long been the place where lines between funny, painful and embarrassing get blurred. When done well, it's also a place that strikes universal chords in its viewers - and winds up massaging hearts instead of breaking them.
By the final frame, "Couples Retreat" doesn't even feel like comedy, but a series of product placement setups, in which the characters seem to view themselves and their relationships as products, too.
For all the problems they meet face-to-face in paradise, you know everyone's going to kiss and make up by the final fade-out, even if divorce would be a saner, and more humane, solution.
True love is nowhere on the radar screen for anyone connected to "Couples Retreat."
But they have no shortage of ways to be boring.
* Contact Rick Chatenever at firstname.lastname@example.org.