The Break-Up

Year: 2006
Director: Peyton Reed
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughan, Jon Favreau, Joey Lauren Adams, Justin Long, Judy Davis, Jason Bateman, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ann-Margret
Actors of the calibre (and clout) of Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughan would never appear in a bland romantic comedy like lesser stars would, so you know at least there'll be something in this film that diverts from the ordinary.

For starters, there's Vince Vaughan's motormouth shtick, which fans would be expecting and so which the studio and scriptwriters both knew they had to deliver in droves.

It depicts Gary (Vaughan) and Brooke (Aniston), who are polar opposites but somehow fell in love. They have a bad argument one particularly stressful night and decide then and there to break up. As neither is willing to move out of their apartment Gary moves into the living room and they start to live as separate singles to various degrees of success (and comedy).

It gets serious at times, and that's the point of difference. But the film's struggle to be different only surfaces about half the time and we go from funny to sad one scene at a time where it would have been better to do so seamlessly. Half the time it's played purely for multiplex laughs, as with Brooke's gay singing brother and Gary's sardonic sardonic bartender friend (Favreau).

When we go from that to the seriousness, the result is the movie only rises to halfway where it should be, and both leads' ability to lift the game through their performances (especially Aniston) ends up an Achilles heel rather than a strength. Instead of a comedy, it would have worked better as a drama with laughs. The scene where Brooke (Aniston) comes home from the concert where she expected to reconcile with Gary (Vaughan) is genuinely heartbreaking and you feel the way you would in real life; he's cruel and an idiot and she's been hurt by him.

In other scenes we're back in the movie character zone where we love him for being funny and roll our eyes and say 'bloody men, will they never learn?' Or we see a typical movie set-up that would never happen in real life, like the card-playing party with the skanky ho's. It doesn't work and both extremes belong in two different movies.

Then we have the final scene, once again a big departure from the requisite happy ending of the guy and girl riding off into the sunset, but in trying for the point of difference, it doesn't seem to say anything. The whole thing would have worked better as a bland rom-com effort, tripping over itself too much.

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