Movie Review: The Break Up

By Amy Lamare, June 3, 2006

Can Vaughnifer revive the sagging rom-com genre? In a word? No.

Don’t get me wrong, The Break-Up (BRKUP) has many truly funny and touching moments. But the thing is, from the outset, you just don’t buy that this couple is a couple.

Jennifer Aniston (JANIS) plays Brooke, an art gallery sales person who lives in a deluxe condo in Chicago with her Tour Bus driver boyfriend Gary. Vince Vaughn (VVAUG) plays Gary like some 2006 era Neanderthal who worships at the throne of meanness and selfishness. Right from the start, as Brooke rushes around preparing dinner for both sets of parents and siblings and Gary luxuriates on the couch playing video games and ignoring Brooke’s pleas for help, we are attuned to how very different they are and we wonder what the heck a catch like Brooke is doing with a selfish, immature brat like Gary.

Brooke breaks up with Gary, but she doesn’t mean to. Rest of flick is spent with the two engaged in escalating domestic warfare. But they really do love each other and want each other back. Funny, but that does not come across and is not even all that believable, especially when Brooke is whining to her beleaguered best friend Maddie, played Joey Lauren Adams (JLADA).

What is funny are the moments Vaughn shares with real life pal Jon Favreau (JFAVR). Favreau’s character manages to be the White Sox fan to Vaughn’s Cubbie fan, he supports his friend while telling him, quite comedically, that his head is up his ass and he doesn’t blame Brooke for leaving.

The problem really comes down to a lack of setup and too much focus on the domestic warfare. Brooke and Gary’s relationship is revealed in a montage of goofy photos over the beginning credits. We have no frame of reference how committed to building a life together they are. And then BOOM! All hell breaks loose. After spending 90 minutes at the center of the storm, suddenly, out of nowhere, the axis shifts. Brooke no longer wants Gary, even when he ponies up and does and says everything she said she wanted. Next thing we know, she’s taking off on some extended vacation and well, if I tell you anymore, I’ll spoil what little plot there is for you.

I am a fan of both lead actors and they did a good job with the material they were given. And there are some truly hysterical moments. But overall the pic fails due to a lack of depth and believability. And come on, the mainstay of the rom-com is a lack of believability, a belief in a fairy tale kind of love. Honey, this ain’t no fairy tale, not by a long shot.

Supporting characters breathe life into the tension and spite brewing between Brooke and Gary. Judy Davis as Brooke’s boss and Justin Long (JLONG) as her co-worker are especially delightful. Vincent D’Onofrio (VDONO), as Gary’s older brother gives his character some tics and traits I never was able to completely figure out. Helmer Peyton Reed lenses the city of Chicago beautifully.

Overall The Break-Up was mildly entertaining but disappointing. Jennifer Aniston did have a great wardrobe, I will give it that much.

This work is the property of Stock Exchange and Amy Lamare. It is not to be reused, reprinted or stolen under any conditions.

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