Am I the only one who has noticed that stars usually hook up and start relationships while making really crappy movies? Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on the set of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger seeing sparks during the filming of The Getaway remake, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith while making Two Much, the list goes on. Well, add Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn to the list for The Break-Up.
The film is a drab experience being crudely mis-marketed as an “anti-romantic” comedy of sorts. Aniston and Vaughn star as Brooke and Gary, a couple who meet at a Chicago Cubs game as the film opens. The scene is well-done as Vaughn uses his patented wise ass charm to lure Aniston from a dorky suitor. Fast forward and the two are sharing a plush condo, he a Chicago bus tour guide and she an art gallery manager. A bitter and prolonged argument breaks out after what can only be described as a so-bizarre-it-can’t-be-real dinner experience with Brooke’s family. She breaks up with him in the hopes that he’ll see how big of a part she plays in his life. He just wants to be left alone. Neither will move out of the condo, and the revenge games begin.
The screenplay by Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender (with help on the story side from Vaughn) is about as emotionally manic as you can get. It wants to be a dialogue-driven comedy and a relevant commentary on relationships simultaneously, and the net effect is failure on both fronts. All I thought about after it was over was the potential it has as an independent film, provided the script gets one more rewrite and some unknown actors are cast. The characters of Brooke and Gary are written so specifically to Aniston and Vaughn that it becomes a severe distraction. This lack of challenge for the actors leaves the film hung out to dry and feeling like a sitcom on its last legs.
The Break-Up actually shows a sense of adventure in its final minutes, but by that point we are ready to duct tape Aniston and Vaughn’s mouths shut and pelt them with ball bearings. It’s fairly self-explanatory as to why this ending tested badly with early audiences, but it was the brightest moment in what is otherwise a chore of a film to sit through.
This summer movie season sure is off to a largely lackluster and frustrating start, and The Break-Up sure doesn’t help matters. Aniston and Vaughn fans will undoubtedly flock to this, but one has to wonder how many more box office disappointments Aniston has left on her abacus before she loses leading lady status. I reiterate: don’t be fooled by the devilishly quirky TV spots that have been playing every five minutes on E! This is a gloomy mishmash of ideas that never comes together and is hardly ever fun to watch.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 106 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, some nudity and language.
Theatrical Release: June 2, 2006
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Written by: Jeremy Garelick & Jay Lavender. Story by Vince Vaughn & Garelick & Lavender.
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Favreau, Joey Lauren Adams, Ann-Margret, Jason Bateman