A VERY HESITANT THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
THE BREAK-UP is not a comedy. You’ll find very few laughs. But it is a somewhat touching romantic drama with a surprisingly strong performance from Vince Vaughn (WEDDING CRASHERS) and a fine job by Jennifer Aniston (RUMOR HAS IT).
Gary Grobowski (Vaughn) and Brooke Meyers (Aniston) meet at a Chicago baseball game and fall head-over-hearts for each other. They buy a condo while their relationship punches ahead at full speed ...until the brakes are applied with deadly force during a dinner with friends and family. Gary forgot to buy enough lemons for the table display and all of the irritants that have bothered both of them come tumbling forth.
As their relationship disintegrates, one-upmanship is employed by the two fallen lovebirds; Gary buys a pool table for the dining room and Brooke starts dating other men. Neither can afford to move out of the condo so it is eventually put up for sale.
The relationship falls to such a level that it appears completely unsalvageable. When Brooke extends an olive branch, it is unknowingly knocked aside by Gary. And once Gary realizes that it was an olive branch, it’s too late to grasp.
Strong bit parts by the quirky Vincent D’Onofrio (THE CELL), Cole Houser (PITCH BLACK) and Jason Bateman (DODGEBALL) help pull this rather pedestrian dramatic film up a notch. Even Ann Margret (VIVA LAS VEGAS) has a fleeting film moment that is noteworthy during the infamous dinner scene.
The downside is that there’s no hallelujah moment, which is somewhat of a letdown. While comparisons to THE WAR OF THE ROSES (1989) are evident in the The Break-Up’s premise, The War of the Roses was most definitely a physical comedy with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner doing horrible things to each other, trying to do more bodily harm than psychological. In The Break-Up, Aniston’s and Vaughn’s characters are still distantly in love and the harm comes when each refuses to budge in order to get the relationship back on track.
The drama of The Break-Up is dripping with subversive anger as the two characters force friends to take sides, bitterly fight over the smallest of tidbits, and generally run slipshod over their once prosperous lives. And although we’ve seen similar films with similar themes, the one thing that helped give this flick a more positive rating was that it didn’t slip into cliche at the end.
There is no happy ending for them. The question as to if they’ll ever get back together is left in the air, like so many true-life relationships. That there is personal growth on both their parts (most notably on Vaughn’s character) is an added bonus that is touched on towards the end.