Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Breakup





Gary (Vaughn) and Brooke (Aniston) meet at a Cubs game while Brook is on a date with another guy and it is love at first sight. A few memorable photos later and their relationship is now on the brink. After a disastrous multi-family get together, Brooke has decided she's had enough of Gary's inconsiderate nature, and breaks up with him; hence the ingenious title of the film. But there are complications like being on the same bowling team, game nights, mutual friends, and owning a condo together. How will they deal with all of these problems? Will they discover the love they have for each other has not died and get back together? These are the types of questions our big summer romantic comedy tries to answer, but the big question should be: At the end of the film, will we care what the hell happens? For me, I know I sure as hell didn't.

We've had a lot of annoying ass couples over the past few years in forgettable romantic comedies, and believe it or not, The Breakup actually reaches lower than all of the You've Got Mail's and Must Love Dog's combined. Completely ripping off 1986's About Last Night, which is still as great as it was twenty years ago, Vaughn and his buds have taken all of the dramatic elements out of that film and have tried to make a straight out comedy about misery at it's worst. This is not a bad concept per se. Vaughn and Aniston definately have the chops to make this type of dark comedy work, but I missed where this film actually tried to be dark.

No, The Breakup doesn't realize that it's supposed to be a dark comedy. It takes the idea of misery loves company and tries to make it into a light hearted romp ala The Money Pit. Anyone else still watch that film today? I didn't think so, and believe me, no one will be watching The Breakup in twenty years either. This should have been more War of the Roses and less The Wedding Singer. And come to think of it, I think Adam Sandler would have given this one a pass.

It has all of the generic elements of every romantic comedy you've ever seen. The best friends (Favreu and Adams), the crazy family members (Anne Margaret tries to reach her inner Barbara Streisand in the role of Brooke's mother), the zany fights, the misunderstandings (Gary thinks Brooke has brought home a date and storms out of the apartment; turns out he was just there to look at a piece of art she is trying to sell), etc.

The first half of the film is weighted down by all of the fights which consist of a bunch of screaming and a few decent one-liners from Vaughn ("Why would I want to do the dishes?") and the acts of revenge which come off a little more depressing than anything remotely funny; wait till you see Gary's strip Texas Hold-Em game that turns into an orgy (A PG-13 orgy, but still). There's also an acapella group led by Brooke's unkowingly gay brother, Richard, played by John Michael Higgins in a role far removed from his memorable roles in the Christopher Guest films he's participated in. We get a brutal game of Pictionary, a contest of testosterone in the form of a Madden football game between Gary and Brooke's date that is sent there to make him jealous. And I already mentioned the Texas Hold-Em/Orgy.

All of this adds up to really nothing. From the descriptions you could see where good humor could be had, but it never comes, it just never fucking comes. Director Peyton Reed has made solid comedies in the past like Bring it On and Down With Love, not to mention directed episodes of one of the all-time best television shows ever, "Mr. Show." Here, he has nothing to work with at all, and it shows.

The previews were solid for this film, and with the talent involved I really thought this could be the first romantic comedy in a millenium that would actually work. But for it to be a good romantic comedy, I guess it actually has to be somewhat romantic, and The Breakup, at times, is just flat out disgusting and vile. This is a complete waste of time all the way around; stay away, stay very far away. I'm warning you.


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