Film review by: Witney Seibold
The Classic story of boy-meets-girl/boy-loses-girl/boy-and-girl-proceed-to-behave-like-petty-idiot-assholes gets the star treatment in Peyton Reed’s The Break-Up. The film is ostensibly a comedy, and there were indeed some comic moments, but it failed to be out-and-out comedic for two reasons. First, because we’re constantly waiting for the moment when both boy and girl realize that the relationship is indeed over, and the heartbreak must begin. Second, because the film goes to such great lengths to make the two leads angry and unlikable, that we cannot feel any sympathy for them.
The girl is Brooke (Jennifer Aniston, who has little range as an actress, but does what she does well), an assistant at an art gallery, and a hard-worker. The boy is Gary (Vince Vaughn), one of those beer-drinking, sausage-eating, thick-necked, baseball-obsessed Chicago guys you see lampooned on SNL. In a brief prologue, we see them meeting for the first time at a ballgame where he sort of forces himself into her life; it’s the kind of meeting that doesn’t bode well for the future of their relationship. Fast-forward a few years, they have broken up after the “you don’t appreciate me” argument, but refuse to move away from one another, as their jointly-bought condo is so nice. Comic situation ensue. Brooke tries to make Gary jealous by dating multiple men. Gary tries to make Brooke jealous by playing strip poker with multiple strippers. Brooke asks her fruity brother to rehearse his a cappella band in her room, Gary installs a pool table.
I mentioned above tat there were indeed comic moments in the film, and they all come from the talented supporting cast. Jon Favreau plays Gary’s best friend, brimming with good advice until he suggests something criminal. Vincent D’Onofrio plays Gary’s brother, and seems to be acting in a different film. Judy Davis plays Brooke’s overbearing, ultra-proper boss, and she’s able to make a broad role realistic. Ann-Margret even has a cameo as Brooke’s mom. But it’s Vaughn and Aniston who must carry the film, and they are such despicable people that we don’t care whether or not they get back together, thus squelching most of the film’s comic potential. I spent most of the film just hoping that they finally split and stay apart and never see each other again so that the film would be over and we could all get on with our lives.
June 2nd, Universal Pictures