Monday, 10 August 2020
The Break Up
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Monday, 12 June 2006 20:51

I have always had a secret desire to be a marriage counselor. Perhaps it is that ingrained need of single people to pretend that we would do everything right if we got the chance. Maybe that is why I found The Break Up so frustrating to watch. Problems in movies always seem so darned easy to fix!

Real life celebrity couple Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn star as Brooke and Gary, two people who seem to have everything going for them. She is a successful art dealer and he is a tour bus host for a company he owns with his brothers. They meet at a baseball game and the creative opening credits set up their life as a happy couple in a great photomontage. But the happiness doesn’t last long. In fact, things basically erupt one night when the two are hosting a dinner party. Brooke is exhausted after a day of working, cleaning the house, and cooking dinner for the party. Gary’s only responsibility was to bring home twelve lemons for a centerpiece, but instead he only brings three. Granted she overreacts about the lemons, but we can clearly see the underlying issues as Gary thinks up every possible excuse to remain crashed on the couch in front of the sports channel. A major shouting match results in him wishing that she would leave him alone and her deciding to grant his wish by breaking up with him. Tsk, tsk! If only he had only rushed out to get remaining nine lemons the rest of the movie might not have happened.

From then on we witness the tactics of war used to punish and/or win each other back. She gets a special wax job (the “Telly Savalas”!) and walks around naked; he brings home a pool table and his sleazy friends. The shouting matches come fast and furious and the sparks fly between Vince and Jennifer. With so many passionate arguments in the movie, it’s no wonder the chemistry surfaced in real life. We get to see a side of Vince Vaughn that hasn’t come out on film in quite a while. When someone is as good at comedy as Vince is, it’s easy to forget what a good dramatic actor he can be.

It’s also great to see him paired up with his old pal John Favreau. For those who don’t recognize this duo I highly recommend you rent the 1996 movie Swingers. It’s like the ultimate “chic-flick” for guys! In The Break Up Favreau plays Vaughn’s pal Johnny O who spits out bad advice like a PEZ dispenser. Jennifer Anniston has her own relationship guru played by baby-voiced Chasing Amy star Joey Lauren Adams. Her hilarious brother Richard (John Michael Higgins) also lends his support, stealing scenes as a possibly gay singer with a choir called The Tone Rangers. I wonder what would happen if the angry couple were as honest with each other as they are with their friends.

The Break Up is being touted as a riotous comedy but audiences might not be expecting the emotional wrestling match that shares equal screen time. I think that marketing this movie solely as a comedy is going to hurt it in the long run. Audiences will be coming away disappointed that they don’t have a bellyache from laughing. Also, the ending seemed really abrupt and left me wondering what would come next. I don’t need a movie to wrap up in a big tidy bow, but after nearly a 2-hour runtime I expected something more rewarding.

I wouldn’t discourage anyone from seeing The Break Up, but I will finish with a few words of caution. This is not your typical romantic comedy. Also, it may not the best date movie, unless you are looking for a way to break up with the person you are dating. In which case it is the perfect date movie. If your best line of communication involves watching a movie, perhaps I could offer my counseling services…

I give The Break Up 6 out of 10 stars.