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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.94%
Worth A Look49.02%
Average: 9.8%
Pretty Bad: 29.41%
Total Crap: 8.82%

11 reviews, 36 user ratings

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Break-Up, The
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by Erik Childress

"At Least Pitt/Jolie Got A Good Movie Out Of The Deal"
2 stars

It’s a very easy observation to note that Vince Vaughn’s idea for an “anti-romantic comedy” involves taking out the romance and losing the wry humor involved when a pair of lovers part ways. Imagine George Costanza coming up with this plan on his opposite road although I doubt the end result was Vaughn’s intention. Maybe he heard the horror stories on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith and crafted a story to soothe Miss Aniston and shame the Pittster. That, too, is a lot to assume. All we can walk away with is a decaffeinated and imbalanced War of the Roses where the occasional funny riff from Vaughn attempts to distract us from material which is far more familiar than he believes.

In a prologue, Vaughn’s Gary talks his way into a relationship with Jennifer Aniston’s Brooke at a Chicago Cubs game where she’s already attached to another date. Credits full of photographs reveal the happy time in their lives where they’ve moved into a downtown condo that will once again bring about questions of Aniston characters residing in living quarters they couldn’t possibly afford (a la Friends). Gary works as “the talent” in a Chicago tourbus company owned by him and his two brothers and she works in an art gallery that through the course of the film will prove to have more employees than customers.

Gary & Brooke seem to be just fine until he neglects to bring her the right amount of lemons (for a centerpiece, not edible purposes.) This leads to further confrontation at a family dinner and a final blow-up when it becomes clear that Gary is indeed an “inconsiderate prick” taking her for granted and not participating equally in the relationship. Unable to admit he’s in the wrong or sorry for his actions, Gary takes to sleeping on the couch and marking domains in the home they’ve both put money into. Each tries to get the other’s goad by bringing other people home or dissecting the fun right out of bowling and game nights. It never gets violent (a la the Roses) but the faux darkness of their bickering weighs our patience as it never develops symmetry between the humor and the pain.

As already deciphered, Brooke has a laundry list of issues with Gary and his “me-first” mentality. And while some guys may be demanding a revocation of my man-card, it doesn’t pain me one bit to admit that she’s absolutely in the right. The “why would I WANT to do dishes” conversation milked in the previews teased us into believing The Break-Up would exploit the little nuances of nagging and common sense which are the leading cause of senseless arguments in everyday relationships. Only Brooke’s request is not out-of-line, not trivial and everything she does while they are still together - she has every right to ask, but wouldn’t have to if Gary wasn’t so selfish. Putting your feet up for a moment after getting home from work can be excused. Doing it a second time after dinner and utilizing the same excuse makes you an inconsiderate prick. If Gary’s rampant self-centeredness had been explored as a character trait throughout the film they might have been on the right track, but revealing it to him as some sort of surprise in the third act is the stuff of Saved by the Bell.

Occupying the same roof with Vaughn and Aniston is a supporting cast so impressive that it’s a wonder if they all signed a “two scenes or less” clause in their contract alongside the fineprint that they would create the broadest possible characterizations available. John Michael Higgins is Aniston’s maybe-gay brother who stops the film cold twice with his annoyances and never appears again. Judy Davis is Aniston’s flamboyant boss and Justin Long the overtly gay receptionist. Cole Hauser is Vaughn’s younger brother, Lupus, (IS IT LUPUS?) a deningrating ladies’ man and Vincent D’Onofrio is his older, more responsible family man brother. Jason Bateman gets nothing as their friend/realtor. Ann-Margret has, I think, one line of dialogue as Aniston’s mom and Joey Lauren Adams plays the advice-giving friend. Only Jon Favreau in his scenes with Vaughn spark the kind of off-the-cuff realistic comedy we’ve come to expect thanks to their brilliant work in both Swingers and Made. They have a conversation in the final twenty minutes that is so funny and so perfectly timed that it was clearly one of the few moments where the actors were allowed to jump ship from the next-to-nothing screenplay by first-timers Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender.

That conversation though is typical of the ill-timed tonal shifts presented by Peyton Reed, a director who has built a small, but impressive comic resume starting with a cheerleader comedy of all things (Bring It On). The big dinner party which works to introduce us to two families and the growing strife between the two leads is instantly interrupted by an impromptu A Cappella number by Higgins which seemingly goes on longer than the actual scene itself. Gary continues to display even more despicable bits of behavior including cursing out his older brother, disrupting game night in demonstrative fashion (in a borrowed bit from When Harry Met Sally) and looking like an absolute louse after a game of strip poker. Someone should have reminded Reed that his last film, Down with Love, was also a deconstruction of old school romantic comedies, and did a lot more to embrace the superficial aspects of relationships than any line of dialogue trying to convince us otherwise here. (Not to mention that when you’re dealing with a plot-integral Jennifer Aniston nude scene – the “rack focus” should not be on Vaughn’s head.)

The film is somewhat enlightened by Vaughn’s instinctual ability to articulate the simplest of points with an extenuated brand of his own common sense. Along with his scenes from Favreau, Vaughn gets room for another round of the sport gamer humor he brought to ice hockey in Swingers, presented in the kind of broken-edited montage that Robin Williams usually gets after he’s just riffed away two rolls of film. Audiences may be able to forgive The Break-Ups feeble attempts at drama if they hone in on Vaughn’s comebacks and improv, but are still liable to walk-out baffled when, even after a clearly reshot ending, the film finally does live up to its title. There are a few good laughs in The Break-Up and they are of the effortless kind which infinitely outshadows its stab of filling-in-the-blank holes with colorful characters and poignancy. Vaughn has taken credit for the story idea, but when it comes to the execution we can go right back to Mr. Costanza who once so eloquently put, “what writer, we’re talkin’ about a sitcom.”

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originally posted: 06/02/06 14:00:37
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User Comments

12/24/13 Michelle O the butt & side boob shots did NOT makeup for the Aniston/Vaughn verbal abuse 1 stars
3/18/13 Mireya funny movie 4 stars
8/31/11 Layla Why is it that men are "always wrong" in movies? She was manipulative. 2 stars
9/17/10 student of rhetorical criticism @Alejandra how do you think it depicts sexism.Iwhat are the stereotypes author talks about 4 stars
8/16/09 Dkl Underrated, certainly better than the critics general consensus 4 stars
7/12/09 the dork knight Vince acts like a petulent child. Not exactly an equal playing field if you're male. 3 stars
7/06/08 John Millheim Funny, Jen and Vince fighting was a trip 4 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Bickering got old. Was it trying to be a comedy or a drama? Elements of both. Skip it. 2 stars
5/24/07 ES Some really good jokes, a great story and terrific performances with an ending that works 4 stars
2/18/07 David Pollastrini jen looked great walking through the house naked! 4 stars
12/29/06 Kimberly The movie got to the end and we were like, "that's it??" I think the ending was really bad 2 stars
12/04/06 Alejandra Depicts the sexism in society today 5 stars
11/26/06 dawna so who thinks they get back together? 4 stars
11/24/06 cody a ok movie with good performance by jennifer and vince, but the ending suck. 2 stars
10/29/06 Alyssa very good movie. but definitly should not be recognized as a comedy. 4 stars
10/25/06 Drew G All of the funny scenes were in the trailer... everything else was just depressing 2 stars
10/23/06 Cara Critics are not giving it enough credit. Was an excellent, yet different movie. 5 stars
9/03/06 Christopher Stucky Left a bad taste... mean-spirited and not very funny. 3 stars
8/26/06 Steve-O Vaughn was hilarious, Aniston was adorable, and it gave me an ending I could respect. 4 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant I'm still amazed I liked this. Vaughn was funny, Aniston was bleh... ballsy ending. 4 stars
6/30/06 jcjs i liked it, funny, real, Jennifer beautiful as usual, Vince great..Chicago, yeh..nice show 4 stars
6/25/06 Alejandro Luna Anniston's lame performnce and weepy girl act is really starting to rattle my cage 1 stars
6/19/06 Mase Aniston=Tanned Skeleton, Vaughn and Favereu=slobby pigs!! otherwise pretty funny 4 stars
6/18/06 Violet Absolutely the best movie in a very long time. Must see for men of all ages. real life 5 stars
6/12/06 Brent I liked the funny parts, but it's a downer - I feel like throwing myself off a bridge now 4 stars
6/11/06 Joe Smaltz two hours of my life I will not recover. Gigli, Ishtar,& Waterworld were more interesting 1 stars
6/08/06 btvs2678 was ok, good rental. If going thru a break up wait to see it or you will be hurting 3 stars
6/07/06 Maxima Cirunay Worth a look; realistic! 4 stars
6/06/06 Christen disappointing-made to look funnier and better than it is-wait til it comes out on video 3 stars
6/05/06 Melina very funny and the fights were painful and hit close to home 4 stars
6/05/06 Lord Jiggy Much funnier than critics are giving it credit for...enjoyable. 4 stars
6/04/06 michael close to real life for some but worth watching 4 stars
6/04/06 Sarah Was unrealistic that they never tried it again or had "make up sex." 4 stars
6/04/06 Roberta Mendlovitz unfortunately a true, very true story see it! 4 stars
6/03/06 San Lamar it had its moments, good to see at least once 4 stars
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  02-Jun-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 17-Oct-2006



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