The Break-Up - Review
Review by Jack Foley
VINCE Vaughn created the idea behind The Break-Up, as well as producing and starring in it. But anyone anticipating a laugh-a-minute romantic comedy in the mould of Wedding Crashers had better think twice, for this is very much an anti rom-com that’s nowhere near as amusing as its trailers suggest.
Vaughn admits to being continually disappointed by Hollywood’s lack of imagination when it comes to romantic star vehicles, so set about creating his own variation on the theme that would offer audiences something different.
The result is an engrossing and no less enjoyable movie that provides plenty of food for thought given its relatability to anyone who has ever been in a relationship.
Yes, it could do with being funnier and will certainly disappoint anyone seeking something really jolly but as an absorbing and, at times, poignant exploration of contemporary relationships it has plenty to say.
The film follows the fortunes of tour guide Gary (Vaughn) and art gallery assistant Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) two years after they have met and fallen in love. Now living together, the couple have started to take each for granted and are more prone to arguing than making love.
When an excruciating dinner party with members of their family fully exposes the shortcomings of their relationship, Gary and Brooke agree to separate – but since neither is prepared to give up their condo they continue to live together, resorting to increasingly desperate psychological warfare in a bid to get the other to leave.
The Break-Up has become better known for the film on which Vince and Jen met and fell in love – but anyone expecting to see that chemistry realised on-screen may also be disappointed. The two stars spend most of the time at loggerheads with each other as they attempt to make life more and more uncomfortable.
And boy do the gloves come off! Gary and Brooke take no prisoners in their battle of wits, constantly undermining each other’s attempts to lead a normal life. While occasionally funny, such attempts can also be deeply embarrassing to watch, particularly as their antics have a habit of backfiring.
Viewers may also find themselves squirming in their own seats at times, given the film’s consistent ability to make some salient points about almost every relationship – whether it’s men’s compulsive addiction to their Playstations, or women’s neurotic desire to keep everything clean and tidy (a sentence that’s bound to cause controversy in itself!).
As a result, many of the laughs are awkward rather than hilarious, while the film could give rise to some pretty challenging pub conversations afterwards.
As the bickering couple, both Vaughn and Aniston are on top form, mixing comedy with drama with equal aplomb. Vaughn remains as smooth-talking as ever, even when on the backfoot, but his belated attempts at personal redemption are touchingly observed. Aniston, too, builds on the good work she did in the recent Friends With Money to provide audiences with a character who is equally flawed but human.
It’s mostly left to the strong support cast to lighten proceedings at several points, with the likes of Joey Lauren Adams and Vincent D’Onofrio both registering strongly as friends or relatives of the lead couple.
However, it’s Vaughn regular, Jon Favreau, who steals many of The Break-Up‘s best moments as a loyal friend who consistently offers bad (but funny) advice. The real chemistry that exists on-screen is generated between the two Swingers boys and the film could have used a little more of them sharing the screen.
In spite of its flaws, however, The Break-Up still manages to entertain even if it’s not the movie you might have been expecting. Think War of the Roses played more realistically and you’re in the right neighbourhood. Just don’t be fooled into thinking it’ll make an ideal date movie!
Running time: 107 minutes