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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 brianorndorf

"It's NOT really a comedy, and that's a good thing"
4 stars

“Break-Up” has been incorrectly marketed to the public, but can you blame Universal? They want you to believe this film is another Vince Vaughn laugh riot, but the truth is “Break-Up” is a lot more dramatic than anyone could’ve expected. If you adjust your antenna accordingly, there’s a great deal of perceptively written relationship truths here, along with the occasional gut buster. It’s a sharp film, but not as light as it may look from the outside.

Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) are a proud, Chicago couple with a condo, a long history together, and an intense dislike for each other’s personalities. Faced with a painful break up, the duo look to separate their assets, including dividing up their friends (including Jan Favreau, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Bateman, and Peter Billingsley) and their living space, all the while torpedoing anything that threatens to ruin the fun of fighting. Confronted with the real possibility that their resentment might lead them to separate for good, Brooke and Gary dig deep within themselves to find out if the relationship is worth fighting for.

There’s something rotten about the way “The Break-Up” is being marketed to the public. Looking to coast off the stardust left behind by Vince Vaughn’s previous summer smash, “Wedding Crashers,” Universal is pimping out “Break-Up” as another lap around the slapstick comedy race track, where everything is happy and smiley, and the goal of the film is to make you cramp with laughing pains.

This film just isn’t that.

Conceived and produced by Vaughn, “Break-Up” isn’t even a comedy first and foremost, but a strange and piecing odyssey into the cold, black heart of love. Sure, things kick off on a light note: the picture opens with surefire comedic elements, teaming Vaughn and longtime partner Favreau back onscreen (these guys are the Hope and Crosby of their generation), and gives the star a wide berth to wield his machine gun comedic delivery (always with laser-precise aim). The jokes bounce delightfully, silliness mounts swiftly, and the picture promises a river of comedy will follow. Then the leads start yelling at each other.

One of the most difficult aesthetics to cinematically represent, without audiences screaming their way out the exits in droves, is the relationship argument. Watching lovers fight is difficult to render without becoming mean or obnoxious, and any film that can master covering a bitter melee without crumbling into tiny pieces is worthy of honor. “Break-Up” is overflowing with scenes of Gary and Brooke combating, often flat-out screaming at each other, and it’s cutting material too, with argument points on the nature of appreciation sure to be felt profoundly by both sexes.

Director Peyton Reed, who hasn’t shown any particular directorial ability before (“Bring It On,” and the insufferable atom bomb of awful, “Down with Love”) skillfully guides these painful moments to a soft landing. If anything, the arguments in “Break-Up” don’t stop the film cold as much as Reed’s liberal use of unbearable supporting cast members (Judy Davis as Brooke’s art gallery boss, Vincent D’Onofrio as Gary’s dim older brother) to ham it up for laughs. Reed and Vaughn have a clear idea what this film should say about relationships, and the picture finds clarity and some semblance of originality as it tries to articulate the hypothesis: maybe these two truly don’t belong together. Rarely do you see that level of honesty in summertime entertainment.

That’s not to say that “Break-Up” is a depressing sit. Yes, the film ceases to be funny quickly, and for extended periods of screentime, but the impressive chemistry between the leads is what keeps the film together and often quite amiable. Vaughn and Aniston are perfectly matched onscreen, tossing barbs with ease and trading razor-sharp knowing looks that could kill. An unfairly neglected talent, Aniston is achingly emotionally authentic in the film, and she’s one of the few female talents around who is able to keep up with Vaughn’s onslaught of verbal fastballs.

Since Reed never blows the good will of the film by shoving the material towards despair, the “Break-Up” is able to locate some important emotional cues the viewer can embrace. Obviously, this is a film perfect for anyone who has been through a bad split.

More interestingly though, “Break-Up” could be viewed as the ultimate romantic comedy; the rare picture that makes one thank heaven for all the good relationships they’ve managed to luck into.

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originally posted: 06/02/06 15:07:02
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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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