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

11 reviews, 36 user ratings

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Break-Up, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The Bore Leaving the Boor."
2 stars

“The Break-Up” is a film that offers viewers the spectacle of two unpleasant and wildly incompatible people acting like hateful and boorish fools while trying to seize control of a piece of jointly-owned real estate that neither of them could plausibly afford on their own. In theory, this is not necessarily a bad premise for a film–“The War of the Roses” milked a similar set-up for some deliciously dark comedy–but in execution, it is a near-total wash because no one involved with the film seems to have a coherent idea of what kind of movie they are trying to make. It is too mild-mannered and toothless to work as black comedy, it is too idiotic to work as an exploration of the grim realities of the end of any long-term relationship and it doesn’t even work as a relationship comedy because the two central characters are so obnoxious and unlikable that you can’t believe that they could have survived their first date, let alone stuck together long enough to have something called a relationship in the first place.

Vince Vaughn is Gary, one of those brash “Chicago” guys that you tend to find either in suburban sports bars or on the kind of “SNL” skits that appear at ten minutes before midnight, and Jennifer Aniston is Brooke, one of those bland and blandly attractive women that you tend to find either in lesser sitcoms or in films starring Jennifer Aniston. They meet cute at a Cubs game and have a whirlwind relationship while the opening credits are playing out. By the time they conclude, it is a couple of years later, they are living together in a fancy condo and are slowly beginning to grind on each others nerves–she thinks he is a self-centered boor who doesn’t appreciate her and he thinks that she is an uptight nag. After a stupid argument after a dinner party–he loafs around in the post-party mess until she nags him into helping her do the dishes and then gets mad because he didn’t “want” to do them–the two of them decide to call it quits.

If you’ve seen the trailers, you know what is coming next. Brooke gets her friends to kick him off of their couples bowling team and Gary installs the pool table that he always wanted. Brooke brings guys over for dates and they wind up playing X-Box football with Gary. The main concern, however, seems to be that neither one wants to give up the condo and they eventually begin to drive each other crazy in their efforts to get the other to agree to move out. Eventually, they realize that things aren’t going to work out and they put the place on the market but, as the days before they have to move out tick away, it is unclear whether or not they have the ability to actually get on with their own lives.

In a normal film, the fact that these characters have more demonstrable interest in a condo than in the emotional well-being of both themselves and each other could have been played for blackly funny laughs but “The Break-Up” is too concerned with scoring big box-office to deal with material like that since it is the kind of thing that most test audiences would frown upon. Instead, director Peyton Reed, demonstrating none of the fizzy edge that he brought to “Bring It On” or “Down With Love,” keeps trying to convince us to like these characters even though nothing that they say or do is remotely likable or interesting. This is especially evident during the enraging final scene–a ridiculous bit of feel-good fluff that was evidently tacked on at the last minute in order to give audiences an “up” conclusion even though it is utterly at odds with everything that has come before it. Even if you didn’t know that this was a hastily-shot replacement for the original finale, you would quickly come to just that conclusion–and not just because of Vaughn’s weight loss (which is evident enough that it is even commented on in the dialogue)–and anyone still maintaining a rooting interest in the film at this point is likely to come away from it feeling cheated. Let me put it this way–if the film had ended with someone waking up in bed and realizing that it was all a Bad Dream, that would have been more acceptable than the gibberish offered up here here.

A bigger problem is the simple fact that Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston demonstrate virtually no chemistry together and the very notion that they could have ever been a couple in the first place becomes laughable–perhaps the only really funny thing in the film. Vaughn once again gives us his motor-mouth frat-boy-gone-to-seed performance and while he does get the occasional funny bit of dialogue, this is a character that he has played so many times in the fact that it has officially worn out its welcome. For her part, Aniston offers up yet another variation of the colorless-but-perky urban neurotic that she developed on “Friends” that she has yet to fully shed and once again demonstrates that whatever gifts she may have displayed on television do not translate to the silver screen–she manages to come off as fuzzy and indistinct even her overly tasteful nude scene (which displays nothing that she hasn’t already shown on a “Rolling Stone” cover or two) and not just because of the blurry camera tricks used to protect her modesty. Perhaps realizing that his leads were as dull as dishwater, he seems to have overcompensated by bringing in what feels like half the working actors in the Screen Actors Guild–John Michael Higgins, Justin Long, Jason Bateman, Judy Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio and even a blink-and-you-miss-her Ann-Margret among others–to make appearances and, based on the end results, he seems to have told each one of them that they were playing the colorful supporting role and they respond with scenery-chewing turns that range from the mildly amusing (Davis) to the actively annoying (a dead heat between Higgins and Long).

Though pretty much a disaster through and through, “The Break-Up” does have a couple of mild compensating factors for those willing to sit through the rest of the nonsense. There are some nice shots of Chicago throughout, although the view of the city shown here is along the freshly scrubbed lines of “Ferris Bueller” than the grit of “The Blues Brothers.” Once in a while, a funny line will creep in out of nowhere and while its presence doesn’t really make a lot of sense, I got a kick out of the vintage foreign poster for “Two-Minute Warning” hanging in the living room of the condo. I also like the supporting performances by Jon Favreau and Joey Lauren Adams as the respective best pals of Vaughn and Aniston–even though they are stuck with the standard-issue best-pal roles, both bring enough personality to the proceedings that I found myself speculating how the film might have been improved if the two of them had been given the lead roles instead. Of course, to implement such an idea would have required, wit, ingenuity and nerve on the part of the filmmakers and based on the evidence of the final product, those elements were in short supply indeed.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14686&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/02/06 00:25:43
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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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