Established couple Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) are opposites in every way. He hosts bus tours of Chicago, revels in watching the baseball or playing video games, while she is an art dealer immaculately dressed with a penchant for perfection. After a family dinner, a row explodes and they decide to call off their relationship. But neither wants to leave their well appointed apartment and they become hostile roommates, hoping the other will cave in.
Review by Louise Keller:
Lacking the bite that gave War of the Roses its thorns, The Break-Up is an extended sit-com played for laughs, with little to redeem itself. The two central characters are not the only ones who wish things had been different. I, for one, would have liked to laugh. Or cry. Or at least be entertained. The filmmakers seem to be trying so hard to milk every scenario, that we don't believe any of it: the relationship between Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston; the emotional devastation, the ludicrous one upmanship tactics. The script (from Jeremy Garelick) is much to blame, although Vaughn who contributed to the storyline and produced the film, should have seen the writing on the wall. It reads Humpty Dumpty.
If the appeal of this anti-romantic comedy is to see what on-screen chemistry exists between Vaughn and Aniston after the media saturation about their off-screen relationship, don't bother. There are no sparks. Just animated banter. Aniston fares well, in both dramatic and comedic areas, but as a Vaughn fan since Swingers in 1996, when he first teamed with Jon Favreau, I was disappointed. Almost every scene is overplayed and at times it feels as though he is spruiking his stand-up routine. His best moment comes as he plays straight man to Favreau's tough-guy mate Johnny O, when everything he says is absolutely misunderstood. Judy Davis adds a lively spark as the arty gallery owner, who gives Brooke some relationship tips that include a complimentary waxing session called The Telly Savalas. Who loves you baby... yes, indeed!
There are some good ideas in the lead-up to the break-up, which comes after a row that follows a family dinner that goes downhill. It starts with the lemons Gary forgot to buy, the pool-table Brooke wouldn't let Gary have. Then it goes into those small issues that are really big issues, like helping with the dishes, not buying flowers or tickets to the ballet, going to the baseball... The actual dinner itself is not as funny as it should be, and the running gag about the a capella singing group, The Tone-Rangers falls flat. If the script concentrated a little harder on Gary and Brooke's emotional response to the break-up instead of developing ludicrous tactics to keep their little bit of space in their jointly owned condo, we might be more sympathetic. As it is, I couldn't wait for The End.
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BREAK-UP, THE (M)
CAST: Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn, Judy Davis, Joey Lauren Adams, Ann-Margret, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jon Favreau, Cole Hauser
PRODUCER: Vince Vaughn
DIRECTOR: Peyton Reed
SCRIPT: Jeremy Garelick, (story by Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Alan Edwards
EDITOR: David Rosenbloom
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew Laws
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: United International Pictures
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 8, 2006