The Break-Up (2006)
Some Things are Better Left Unsaid
Is that how you want to play it Brooke? Because I can play it like that. I can play it like Lionel Richie, "All night long." - Gary
There is something about the perverse nature of "The Break-Up" which really hits an accord with me. That's not perverse in the sense of kinky fetishes or Jennifer Aniston in leather bondage gear, although I would imagine a movie starring Jennifer Aniston in bondage gear would be a sure fire money maker. No, I find it perverse that whilst it is a romantic comedy, it goes against everything a traditional romantic comedy tries to be. There is no slow romantic build up, falling out and then a predictable happy coming together ending. "The Break-Up" goes straight for the jugular and is all about the destructive nature of a relationship which unsurprisingly is breaking up in a spectacularly volatile manner.
Gary (Vince Vaughn - Wedding Crashers) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston - Rumor Has It...) seem to be in a contented relationship, and after a whirlwind romance they buy a condo together. But contentment turns to anger when they realise that they are not such a perfect match and soon everything boils over as they try to outdo each other in a game of one-upmanship as they break up and battle for the ownership of the condo.
"The Break-Up" takes no time at all to get into the real story as by the end of the opening credits we have witnessed Gary and Brooke, meet, romance and buy a place together. I quite like this unusual step to dispatch with the build up so quickly and it certainly stops "The Break-Up" from dragging its feet. Now I have to admit the main emphasis of the movie is a bit repetitive with one person trying to outdo the other, but it is enjoyable to see the lengths each will go to in order to try and antagonise the other. Of course these situations seem a little over the top but it is all the more entertaining for it.
Where "The Break-Up" also strangely succeeds is that neither Brooke nor Gary are that likeable and you are not really asked to side with one or the other. Usually I find movies which fail to give you someone too route for fail abysmally but "The Break-Up" succeeds for this exact reason. Of course anyone who has gone through a similarly destructive break up will find characteristics in each of the characters which they can relate too, but you are definitely not sitting there routing for one and despising the other. But by the end you actually have feelings for both of them and I find that a clever manipulation of your emotions a master stroke in making "The Break-Up" more than just a comedy.
The other thing I like about the storyline to "The Break-Up" is that whilst it revels in the humour surrounding the arguments, it doesn't fail to show the emotional side of it, with Gary and Brooke both questioning their antagonistic actions and whether the break up is really what they both want. Again, anyone who has gone through a break up will be able to relate too the decisions which they both deal with, and it is this which gives it a slightly sentimental but realistic touch. You are never going to shed a tear for either of them, even when they are confronted by the reality of the situation but it does make you think.
Ignoring all the hoo-hah surrounding the break up of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt around the time that "The Break-Up was being made, and her subsequent relationship with Vince Vaughn, I am very much undecided whether the casting of Vaughn and Aniston was indeed the right decision. On one hand it could be a master stroke as both play to their talents and take on similar characters to which they have played in countless other movies and TV shows, but then by doing this it could be a weakness as this gives "The Break-Up" a sort of samey feeling, giving you the sense that you have seen it before. What the casting does achieve is the believability that there is a romantic spark between them, even more so when they are going through the pains of the break up. It also provides for some good comedy moments as the closeness between Vaughn and Aniston lets them play off each other with reasonable comedy timing.
As for the rest of the cast, well they are pretty much of a muchness. No one really stands out or puts in a great performance, leaving Vaughn and Aniston to keep the limelight all to themselves. The only enjoyment I actually got from them was spotting the star or has been as it does include a few recognizable names and faces, such as Joey Lauren Adams, Justin Long and Jason Bateman.
What it boils down to is that by no means is "The Break-Up" a classic comedy and in all reality is quite forgettable. But it does thankfully try to do something a little different from the norm when it comes to modern romantic comedies and this for me makes it more entertaining than many other movies in the same genre. The comedy is by no means subtle and you can pre-empt half the jokes but it is highly entertaining and will raise more than the occasional laugh. As for the casting, well Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston do what they do best, so if you have enjoyed their performances in other recent movies then the chances are you're going to enjoy these. "The Break-Up" is well worth a watch but not necessarily one to spend your hard earned cash on.
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