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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.94%
Worth A Look49.02%
Just Average: 9.8%
Pretty Crappy: 29.41%
Sucks: 8.82%

11 reviews, 36 user ratings

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Break-Up, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Pleasant enough story of an uncomfortable situation."
4 stars

"The Break-Up" feels genuine because it is comfortable with a basic truth: Well-meaning people can be complete jerks. People being ugly is not necessarily the most enjoyable thing to watch in terms of being entertaining in a straightforward manner, but every once in a while it's nice to see a romantic comedy's wacky hijinks exposed as not being particularly wacky.

The film opens with Gary Grobowski (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke Meyers (Jennifer Aniston) meeting at a Cubs game. Brooke's there with someone else, but Gary's aggressive, making the point that if she's not really enjoying the date, why see it through to the end when she has the chance to do something that really makes her happy? The credits roll, a photo montage of the next three years of their lives as they go out and move in together. On the other end of the credits, though, things aren't so rosy, as Brooke's preparing for a dinner with her family and Gary's not helping the cause. The dinner is the straw that breaks the camel's back, and they're soon splitting, but unable to come to a decision over who should keep the condominium they purchased together.

At this point, we probably expect The Break-Up to go in the general direction of The Awful Truth, and certainly the advertising points in that direction. Indeed, at certain points it seems reasonable to assume that The Awful Truth is Brooke's plan, but as we all soon learn, part of the fun of screwball comedy is in just how divorced from reality it frequently is. Being broken up and in the same condo makes it almost impossible to see what they loved about each other; their interactions are a long series of finding new and familiar ways to irritate each other. Indeed, as the film goes on, we find ourselves more and more having to strain to remember that photo montage, as it gets harder and harder to visualize these two not just in love, but even liking each other.

That's in part because both Vaughn and Aniston have much trouble putting the worst aspects of their characters front and center. Vaughn's Gary is self-centered. It's not malicious; he just tends to ignore things other than what he wants. Brooke's flaw isn't quite so simply defined; she expects Gary's instincts to align with her own, and refuses to back down when that doesn't work. These are not complementary weaknesses, so we're allowed to build up a fair amount of disdain as the characters push each other away in totally avoidable ways. That's not to say that the two are completely unpleasant, but I suspect who comes out looking more rounded correlates pretty well with the sex of the audience member. Vaughn's snarkiness will play well to guys but come off as just immature to women, whereas Aniston might come off as too romantic for her own good to some and whiny and manipulative to others.

The pair does well, though, which is a good thing, because they've got to carry the movie. Joey Lauren Adams and Jon Favreau pull best friend duty, with Adams playing patient and Favreau mixing a bit of wacky in with his bartender's schtick. Their co-workers are kind of annoying, with Cole Hauser and Vincent D'Onofrio playing Gary's brothers and business partners and tending toward the yelling, while Judy Davis and Justin Long play the owner and receptionist at the art gallery where Brooke works and tending toward bizarrely artsy. John Michael Higgins has some very amusing scenes as Brooke's barbershop-quartet-loving brother, and Jason Bateman walks away with every scene he's in as the ex-couple's realtor and mutual friend.

Director Peyton Reed has bounced back and forth between film and television, and seems like kind of an odd choice to direct this movie. Most of his work has been lighter and more fanciful fare, most notably Down with Love and Bring It On. He's a good choice, though, as he does a good job of balancing the serious, uncomfortably realistic parts of the film with the larger-than-life antics of the supporting cast. This movie could get depressing, or it could become silly enough to undercut the genuine feeling at its core, but Reed never lets it get too far in either direction.

It's taken me a bit of time to get to this review - I left for a film festival the day after seeing this, and by the time I got back to it, the less-funny bits are what stuck with me. It's a surprisingly enjoyable movie, considering the subject matter, and deserves credit for going down smooth.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14686&reviewer=371
originally posted: 08/21/06 00:13:20
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User Comments

12/23/13 Michelle O the butt & side boob shots did NOT makeup for the Aniston/Vaughn verbal abuse 1 stars
3/17/13 Mireya funny movie 4 stars
8/30/11 Layla Why is it that men are "always wrong" in movies? She was manipulative. 2 stars
9/16/10 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
7/11/09 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
5/23/07 ES Some really good jokes, a great story and terrific performances with an ending that works 4 stars
2/17/07 David Pollastrini jen looked great walking through the house naked! 4 stars
12/28/06 Kimberly The movie got to the end and we were like, "that's it??" I think the ending was really bad 2 stars
12/03/06 Alejandra Depicts the sexism in society today 5 stars
11/25/06 dawna so who thinks they get back together? 4 stars
11/23/06 cody a ok movie with good performance by jennifer and vince, but the ending suck. 2 stars
10/28/06 Alyssa very good movie. but definitly should not be recognized as a comedy. 4 stars
10/24/06 Drew G All of the funny scenes were in the trailer... everything else was just depressing 2 stars
10/22/06 Cara Critics are not giving it enough credit. Was an excellent, yet different movie. 5 stars
9/02/06 Christopher Stucky Left a bad taste... mean-spirited and not very funny. 3 stars
8/25/06 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
6/29/06 jcjs i liked it, funny, real, Jennifer beautiful as usual, Vince great..Chicago, yeh..nice show 4 stars
6/24/06 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
6/17/06 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
6/10/06 Joe Smaltz two hours of my life I will not recover. Gigli, Ishtar,& Waterworld were more interesting 1 stars
6/07/06 btvs2678 was ok, good rental. If going thru a break up wait to see it or you will be hurting 3 stars
6/06/06 Maxima Cirunay Worth a look; realistic! 4 stars
6/05/06 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
6/04/06 Lord Jiggy Much funnier than critics are giving it credit for...enjoyable. 4 stars
6/03/06 michael close to real life for some but worth watching 4 stars
6/03/06 Sarah Was unrealistic that they never tried it again or had "make up sex." 4 stars
6/03/06 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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