Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Drama > The Break-Up (Theatrical Film Review)

The Break-Up (Theatrical Film Review)


Stars: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Favreau, Joey Lauren Adams

Director: Peyton Reed

Critic's rating: 7 out of 10


Review by Chuck O'Leary


Back at the tail end of Burt Reynolds' five-year run as the No. 1 box-office attraction in America, he teamed with Goldie Hawn for a most-underappreciated effort, the wonderful anti-romantic comedy Best Friends (1982).  With Reynolds and Hawn still at the height of their stardom, Best Friends should have been a huge hit during the 1982 holiday season.  Instead, it did just moderately well, in part, I think, because critics and audiences were a bit taken aback by the film's often-sour tone.


Going in the opposite direction of most screen romances, Reynolds and Hawn starred as screenwriting partners and longtime lovers whose relationship quickly begins to deteriorate once they marry.  Best Friends offered plenty of big laughs, but those laughs often came from situations that were probably a little too uncomfortably real even for audience in 1982; the Norman Jewison-directed film lacked the over-the-top mean-spiritedness of The War of the Roses, which clearly took place in a less-threatening world of movie fantasy.  Best Friends, though, lacked that degree of comic exaggeration and probably hit a little too close to home for some viewers.


The Break-Up starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston isn't as good as Best Friends or The War of the Roses, but it still retains enough of an edge and contains enough realistic human behavior to make it better than most contemporary mainstream comedies.  Therefore, it's going to be interesting to see how well The Break-Up does once word gets out that it's not a typical, formulaic, feel-good romantic-comedy.  Since it obviously mirrors Aniston's much-publicized real-life divorce from Brad Pitt, and Aniston has reportedly become an off-screen item with co-star Vaughn, The Break-Up should at least open well.  But my guess is that a lot of people aren't going to like it for all the wrong reasons.


Based on something that happens all the time in real life, The Break-Up is about two people who end up in a relationship, but who never should have gotten together in the first place.  Whatever attraction that exists between the two isn't enough to overcome the realization after moving in together that they're completely different people with precious little in common.  Yuppie Brooke (Aniston) and blue-collar Gary (Vaughn) are two opposites who attract, but begin to grate on each other's nerves once they begin to share a condo.


Brooke, an art-gallery employee, might find the nerve of extroverted Gary, a Chicago tour guide in business with his two brothers, amusing when they meet cute at a Cubs game, but once they move in together she's annoyed by the fact that he's just an average guy who likes hanging out with his buddies, watching sports and playing video games.  Gary, on the other hand, might initially be enamored of Brooke's down-to-earth, sexy girl-next-door quality, but becomes annoyed when she demonstrates a more sophisticated side that prefers ballet to sporting events and neatness to clutter.


In what quickly turns into the male-female equivalent of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, Brooke and Gary begin to feud, and soon call it quits.  But since they're all paid up and have time remaining on their condo lease, neither one of them is willing to move out.  This leads to a War of the Roses-style battle where Brooke and Gary divide the apartment into their own separate sections, and then attempt to annoy the other into leaving.  Much bickering ensues.


At a packed invitational screening, a man sitting next to me annoyingly sounded like a human laugh track during early scenes, but his laughter quickly subsided once Gary and Brooke become embittered.  It makes me wonder if The Break-Up will end up being too dark for Vaughn and Aniston fans the way The Cable Guy proved too dark for Jim Carrey's audience?  Personally, I appreciate when movies aren't afraid to accentuate the negative sides of life, but you get the feeling audiences have become so accustomed to airhead cinema devoid of all realism that they don't know how to react when any sense of reality seeps in.


The Break-Up also benefits from a very entertaining supporting cast which includes Vaughn's real-life buddy and Swingers and Made co-star Jon Favreau as Gary's bartender confidant; Joey Lauren Adams as Brooke's married sister; Vincent D'Onofrio as Gary's responsible older brother; Cole Hauser as Gary's hedonistic younger brother; John Michael Higgins as Brooke's possibly gay brother whose a cappella singing is a great source of irritation for Gary; Jason Bateman as Brooke and Gary's realtor friend; Judy Davis as Brooke's tough cookie of a boss; and yes, that's Peter Billingsley of A Christmas Story fame as Adams' henpecked husband -- he's also a co-executive producer.  The film does a good job of juggling these secondary characters and gives most of them a nice moment or two, but I only wish Ann-Margret had been given more screen time as Brooke's mother.


Coincidentally, for a film that plays a bit like Best Friends for a younger generation, the characters in The Break-Up are seen playing Win, Lose or Draw in one scene, a game invented by none other than Burt Reynolds.


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com