REVIEW: The Break-Up [2006]

The honor has been bestowed upon me to talk about movies for our blog. No need for fanfare, however, as our premiere is not one to write home about. Yes, we begin with the underachieving Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston (the conjoined pet name eludes me) vehicle The Break-Up. Curse the trailers for having me say to myself, “save the date of June 2 for that one.”

I should have seen the warning signs; I know this now. The film was directed by Peyton Reed of Bring It On fame. Wow, that one should have put the nail in the coffin right away. However, he was involved with TV’s cult favorites “Mr. Show” and “Upright Citizens Brigade”, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Most glaring though, was the PG13 rating. This is usually the kiss of death for a comedy of this kind. It starred Vince Vaughn, I thought if anyone can make PG13 seem R it’s him. But alas, he couldn’t.

With a cast this top-heavy on names, (some falsely calling it a “Frat Pack” film, untrue because of the omissions of Ferrell, Stiller, Black, Piven and Wilson Bros.), you’d think the humor, which starts off blazing, could be sustained. Instead we get to the point where Vaughn’s fast-talking, witty banter turns into loud, obnoxious, rehashed insults. The movie hits a lull during the middle stanza and rather than become comic genius, just ends up falling into the paint-by-numbers romantic comedy we see Hollywood churn out every week.

Most characters are underused. Ann-Margaret says thank you for the paycheck, Joey Lauren Adams is a far-cry from her brilliance in Chasing Amy, Vincent D’Onofrio is basically there just to advance a plot point, Cole Hauser has one funny moment at a night club, Justin Long is humorous playing a flamboyant secretary (gets old fast, though), and Judy Davis is wasted in a part where her role’s ego could have allowed for more laughs (she also looks just plain scary, as age didn’t do her well in the 9 years since I last saw her in Deconstructing Harry). The supporting actors each get maybe 10 minutes of screen time for one-dimensional roles that only serve as a quick laugh.

Aniston is the leading lady, but really just a support herself for Vaughn’s antics. Vince is center-stage and, in my opinion, just can’t pull through for an hour and a half. He is the consummate scene-stealer in other performers’ vehicles, but falls flat when he needs to lead. Surprisingly, Jon Favreau does his best Vince Vaughn by owning every scene he has. The guy acts like a champ, making us laugh even when we are checking our watches during the final act. John Michael Higgins also comes through, especially with his rendition of Yes’s Owner of a Lonely Heart.

Overall the starting laughs are great. However, you don’t pay theatre prices for less than half a movie. Wait on this one until it comes to video in 5 months or so. Instead check out great understated and nuanced performances from Vaughn and D’Onofrio in last year’s dramedy Thumbsucker, or revisit Vaughn’s breakthrough role as he delivers on a Favreau penned script in the great Swingers, (“Watch me make Gretzky’s head bleed for super fan 99 over there”), so money it knows it.

The Break-Up 4/10 | ★ ½

[1] Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) in the romantic comedy The Break-Up.


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