Friday, September 18, 2009

Couples Retreat

I guess I first (subconsciously) noticed a commercial for the movie, Couples Retreat, a few days ago, but it never really registered until today. It seems that the movie will be funny enough, and I do like Vince Vaughn, but I can't seem to get over the title. I have been pondering it all day. Mostly, I suppose, I am confused by the title's lack of an apostrophe on the word "Couples."
I am fairly certain that the movie is about a couple going on vacation, so it would be natural to call it Couple's Retreat, or even Couples' Retreat if there are several groups of couples. However, the creators do not include the apostrophe in the title, and as a result, the title can have absolutely nothing to do with "couples" going on a "retreat."

In fact, without the apostrophe, the most apparent meaning of the title is with "retreat" as a verb and "couples" doing that action - retreating... Perhaps the creators intended this meaning, implying that the couples should "retreat" (from a bad vacation, or even each other). Maybe the creators even intended the title to apply to the audience (as in couples should retreat from this movie because it will give you a bad impression of love).

However, my problem is that this second (and less significant meaning) must have been intended as a play on the first (and most obvious) meaning. But that first meaning cannot exist grammatically, so the second play on meaning takes on a primary importance, yet it was clearly intended as a play.

WHICH MEANS....(and I hope they didn't do this, but I fear they did)... the creators dropped the apostrophe (primarily to make the second meaning possible), but at the same time assumed that their audience would still read the title as a possessive ("Couple's retreat") even without an actual apostrophe.

If this really is the case, then it is a unfair and tragic manipulation of language because it reinforces the (all to common) idea that apostrophes are unnecessary and it suggests that the average viewer is ignorant of language and easily manipulated. Worst of all, this decision happened to advance an (at best) sub par secondary meaning.

There is a good chance I will not be seeing the movie.


Stuart said...

Didn't you mean to say it was an 'all too common' mistake? :-)

Brooks Winchell said...

My daughter's pediatrician works in a place called "Doctors Park" and my wife swears it is not a doctor's park, but a park of doctors. And I suppose that makes sense.