* (out of 5)
June 2, 2006
Vince Vaughn as GARY GROBOWSKI
Jennifer Aniston as BROOKE MEYERS
Joey Lauren Adams as MADDIE
Cole Hauser as LUPUS GROBOWSKI
Jon Favreau as JOHNNY O
Jason Bateman as RIGGLEMAN
Judy Davis as MARILYN DEAN
Justin Long as CHRISTOPHER
John Michael Higgins as RICHARD MEYERS
Directed by: Payton Reed
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I don’t believe in curses, but if they do exist, I’d say that the biggest one in Hollywood is to do a movie with your lover. Yes, there are rare instances where this works (like “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and a number of movies from the 1980s featuring Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan or Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman). But history has proved time and again that this is most often a sign of disaster.
Here’s the short list: “Cleopatra” (Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton), “The Marrying Man” (Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger), “Proof of Life” (Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan) and the infamous “Gigli” (Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez).
Look for “The Break-Up” to be listed with these cinematic disasters in the coming years.
“The Break-Up” tells the story of Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) and Gary (Vince Vaughn), a couple who call it quits, but neither one wants to move out of their swanky Chicago condo. So, like a bad episode of “Three’s Company,” they try to share the place while they’re at each others’ throats.
This movie is aimed at the romantic comedy crowd, but it fails to connect with that audience. Fans of romantic comedies want to see a love story. They want to see people’s relationship grow as they discover what they like about each other. They also like to see a happy ending.
“The Break-Up” fails on all points of this. Instead of showing any development of the relationship, it simply shows it in self-destruct mode. We see the characters at their worst, and I was left searching for anything appealing about either one.
We never get the emotional investment of the characters and simply have to settle for a photo montage in the opening credits to understand why they fell in love in the first place. (And a lot of it seems to have to do with drinking copious amounts of alcohol, which we all know is the foundation of a winning relationship.)
An anti-romance can work, if done effectively. “The War of the Roses,” in which Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas literally kill each other during a nasty divorce, is a great flick. But it’s really a dark comedy and didn’t target the “Pretty Woman” crowd. “The Break-Up” doesn’t go far enough for the dark comedy, and it never shows anything attractive about either main character to really cash in on it’s audience’s emotions.
The only gems in this movie are some classic romantic comedy supporting roles, like the gay assistant (hilariously played by Justin Long) and the gay brother (also hilariously played by John Michael Higgins). The rest of the supporting characters are as disdainful as the leads.
The screeching and nasally Joey Lauren Adams plays Brooke’s best friend, demonstrating how manipulative and conniving some women can be. The normally deft Jon Favreau plays Gary’s best friend, who comes off flat and weak. Watching the two of them on screen is great to a degree, but they are trying to capture the “Swingers” feel in the middle of a film. Sadly, this film is no “Swingers.”
“The Break-Up” will only appeal to that segment of people that can’t stand love stories. You know the type – the ones that hate Valentine’s Day because they don’t have someone to share it with. Also, if you’ve just escaped from an awful relationship, you might find something to like in “The Break-Up.” Bitter men will look at Brooke as a psychotic nut case. Bitter women will look at Gary as a self-centered jerk. They’re both right.
“The Break-Up” is so depressing, painful and awful to watch that I felt like I had just been through a bitter divorce myself.