Just because performers click romantically off-screen doesn’t mean you need to pay good money to watch them in movies that are less interesting than the stories they inspire in supermarket tabloids. The real-life sparks that flew between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are evident on screen. The same cannot be said for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez or dozens of other acting couples. At times, you almost wonder if a couple’s splits or reconciliations are more devoted to release dates than to the call of their own hearts.Such seems to be the case of the new Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston comedy “The Break-Up.” As you’ve probably noticed while buying groceries, Aniston’s former husband Brad Pitt dropped her for Angelina Jolie and went to Namibia to have their child.
Lots of ink has been spilled since about Aniston’s subsequent hookup with her current co-star Vaughn. Curiously, the two aren’t that fun to watch together.
The limp story, credited to Vaughn, Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender could be a factor. Neither of the actors has an interesting role. Vaughn plays a funny but immature tour guide named Gary who starts a two-year relationship with a driven art dealer named Brooke (Aniston).
Gary thinks the floor can be used as both a storage and disposal device, and Brooke gets upset if Gary can’t get her the 12 lemons she requires for a decorative place setting.
With these differing philosophies and with their stubborn dispositions, it’s safe to say their relationship is over.
The split gets ugly because neither can single-handedly afford the steep mortgage for their Chicago condo. The two also lay claim to individual rooms and do everything in their power to annoy each other. Of course, both are secretly longing for the magic that had been in their relationship to return.
The main problem with “The Break-Up” is that we never really see that magic. Gary and Brooke’s meeting over hot dogs at Wrigley Field has some laughs, but we never get any indication what each of the lovers ever saw in each other. As a result, a lot of “The Break-Up” feels like a slow journey toward the inevitable.
It’s hard to empathize with their longing for each other if all we see is their petty bickering. There’s also a nagging sense that Gary and Brooke have unusually easy lives (Brooke is told to take time off for her relationship blues, and Gary is always happy to pass the buck to his brothers in running his business).
For a romantic or even an anti-romantic comedy, it’s essential that the leads have at least some chemistry. Vaughn is much funnier quibbling with an old buddy played by his real-life pal and collaborator Jon Favreau than he is with Aniston.
John Michael Higgins has a brief but amusing role as Aniston’s singing-obsessed brother. It’s odd that even though Vaughn is also credited as a producer and set the story in his hometown, he’s failed to give himself anything interesting to do. In many cases, the supporting players like Cole Hauser and Judy Davis have more entertaining characters than either of the leads do.Unless you cry yourself to sleep every night over the cancellation of “Friends” or pray every morning that Aniston has finally met her perfect match, there’s no reason to see a comedy that’s not nearly as funny as the new remake of “The Omen.”