Vince & Jen are caught in the middle of 'The Break-Up'
Vince Vaughn's manic persona was unleashed in last summer's unexpected smash hit The Wedding Crashers. Although the films aren't related, The Break-Up plays in a few scenes like a sequel. It is as if Vaughn's Jeremy from Wedding Crashers settled down into a long-term relationship with a "stage five clinger," played by Jennifer Aniston.
Unfortunately, The Break-Up is not out to deliver outrageous laughs. After seeing the movie, I'm not sure what it was trying to deliver, and I don't think director Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Down With Love) knows either. Vaughn doesn't get a pass, since he is credited with the story turned into a screenplay by Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender.
My guess is that the creative team was either trying to:
a) Make an edgy romantic comedy, or
b) Make a black comedy that isn't nearly edgy enough.
Instead what we have is the story of a relationship that could never work, featuring two people who love each other, but not enough to work at their relationship, or express their true feelings.
They meet at a Cubs baseball game (the film is set in the Windy City). Gary (Vaughn) is thoroughly obnoxious as he tries to pick up Brooke (Aniston) after the game. What a creep he is; yet in the next scene we find out that they are together, sharing a condo.
Gary and his brothers run a tour bus business -- Brooke helps run an art gallery. By design, the story skips all the opposites attract, falling in love stuff, and reintroduces us right at the moment that their magnetic attraction has reversed polarity. They have had it with each other. It appears that the biggest hindrance to the break-up is that they share the condo, and each must still live there until they decide to sell.
So is this a hate fest that explodes like The War of the Roses? Not exactly. Is it a dramedy about fighting through the heartache and finding a reason to stay together? Nope, not that either. Sure, it hints at a war around the edges, and it presents scenes in which we see the sweet gooey core of love that led to these mismatched lovers trying -- against all odds -- to make it in the first place. What we don't see is a cohesive theme that brings it all together. Instead there are a lot of scenes that don't add up. It isn't particularly funny, except for a sidebar about Brooke's musically obsessed brother, and the line readings of the always fabulous Judy Davis as Brooke's boss. It doesn't make you care about the characters either, except in the odd moment here and there.
Well, is it worth seeing for the acting? Vaughn is doing his classic fast and funny, manly man jive talking, but he's reigned in the manic side, which tends to reign in the laughs. Aniston, who has given excellent performances in small-scale art flicks (The Good Girl, Friends With Money), has yet to find a breakthrough commercial film role to match her TV success. She is still looking.
The Break-Up is a movie that can't decide what it wants to be and ends up being not much of anything.
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