REVIEW: The Break-Up

My continued mystification by the popularity of Jennifer Anniston notwithstanding, this is a darn funny movie, and you should go see it even if you’re not nuts about romantic comedies (and I’m not.)

The studio-hyped pretext for the movie, filtered out through months and months worth of the utterly useless, IQ-draining rags like “US Weekly” and “People,” is the chance to see the film wherein Anniston and Vince Vaughn “hooked up.” The ACTUAL (read: not asinine) reason to see the film is for it’s uniqueness: It begins at what is traditionally the beginning of the 3rd act in other rom-coms, i.e. when the “perfect” relationship hits a snag… only here, the process of splitting-up will encompass the whole of the story, and a “happy” ending is NOT a garauntee.

That’s the pitch: two hours of a soon-to-be-ex couple trading vicious verbal barbs and emotional slings n’ arrows. This is a good idea.

Vaughn is a natural at this material, inhabiting his role as a slightly-overweight Chicago tour guide who’s comfort zone envelopes the couch and who’d prefer more video game time and maybe a pool table to his live-in girlfriend’s efforts to turn the condo into a yuppie-fied place of entertaining. Likewise, Anniston’s severely-limited range (say it with me one more time, kids: “Friends” was never, ever, ever all that funny!) fits snugly within the realm of playing a cultured art gallery manager who fell for a “fun guy” and is innevitably shocked to find herself living with a “clothes on the living room floor guy.”

The fights are loud, angry and full of really cutting remarks (when I saw it, the opening-night crowd’s male and female members “cheered on” each verbal “blow” landed by their respective avatar like Boston and New York baseball fans) that feel honest and real; but this is not to suggest that director Peyton Reed (“Down With Love”) has turned in some kind of dreary non-comedy. It’s populated with colorful supporting players and a real-enough feeling comic contrivance (they try to continue sharing the condo) to play as a thoroughly enjoyable mainstream comedy without sacrificing any of it’s overall realism and depth.

In other words, it’s a big-star rom-com that doesn’t completely suck, which is pretty darn rare and thus always reccomended.


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