If you asked someone to describe a break-up, you would probably hear the words awkward and uncomfortable.
If you asked me to describe The Break-Up, the new film directed by Peyton Reed (Bring it On, Down With Love) and starring Jennifer Aniston, and Vince Vaughn who also co-wrote and produced, I would also use the words awkward and uncomfortable. I would use the words contrived and unfunny as well. Not good for a film billed as a romantic comedy. Not much romance in a break-up. Not much comedy in The Break-Up.
People in the midst of a break-up would most likely say that they can’t wait for it to be over. People in the midst of The Break-Up would most likely say the same thing.
This movie is painful to watch.
Jennifer Aniston plays Brooke opposite Vaughn’s Gary. A couple living together, and not getting along. After seeing how they met, and a montage of pictures of them together, we are thrown into an evening in which our couple is preparing for a dinner party. This horribly directed sequence, which includes amateur camera operation during a scene in their kitchen, results in an end of the evening fight, and Brooke announcing that it is over. Oh, if only it had been.
Brooke proceeds to try every method ever learned in junior high school to fix things, while Gary does nothing but go out of his way to irritate Brooke, and the audience.
Hopefully, Aniston and Vaughn have more chemistry in their relationship off screen than they were able to generate in this disaster.
A huge part of the problem is the script. It paints our two lead characters as totally inept people when it comes to a relationship. No communication, no understanding. These people are never on the same page whether they are in the relationship or out. Possibly believable if they were in high school, but not fathomable here. Based on the lead characters, the direction, and the script, a better title for the film would have been Clueless, but it was already taken.
Now maybe part of the problem is Vince Vaughn. He plays awkward very well, but he seems to play it in everything. Be it Wedding Crashers, Old School, Return to Paradise, etc. He is one-dimensional. Now, sometimes that dimension fits the movie as in the 1998 film A Cool Dry Place, but often he just seems out of place or as if he is phoning it in as in the 2004 film Dodgeball. In this outing, awkward works in certain situations, but Vaughn’s portrayal of Gary appears insensitive and unaware.
Aniston does well with what she has, and I am not referring to her attempts to show cleavage. She displays range here that we have not seen from her. Unfortunately, her character is ridiculous, and that will likely reflect on the performance with a lot of people.
As the co-writer of the story, but not the original script, I imagine Vaughn was going for a When Harry Met Sally type of relationship that hits the rocks. Perhaps that is what they were going for, but this film hits the rocks before it got started.
With all that said, the saddest part has yet to be mentioned. This film has an all-star supporting cast that is simply wasted. Never has a who’s who of character actors including Joey Lauren Adams, Cole Hauser, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Judy Davis, Justin Long, Vincent D’Onofrio, and John Michael Higgins, ever been so underutilized. Our brief exposure to these characters is the best part of the film.
Have you ever heard someone say that being in a bad relationship is better than being alone?
Recommendation: Spend time in a bad relationship or alone instead of seeing this film.
Written by Hombre Divertido