The Break-up

on June 02, 2006 by Bridget Byrne
"The Break-Up" simply doesn't gel. Whatever the reality or tabloidization or the relationship between Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, on screen it's a contrived bore.

The pudgy Vaughn, who co-authored the story idea, has cast himself as Gary Grobowski, a man possessed of all manly clichés, and landed the slender Brooke Meyers (Aniston), a woman with all the womanly clichés. The consequence is we don't feel at all friendly towards them, and we don't care at all about the result of their romantic impasse. The only cute bit is the opening credits stills sequence, when they cuddle up and smile and kiss and aren't heard saying anything. Once they get talking it's just like hearing all the stuff you don't want to know, but are nevertheless told over and over again, about friends' unhappy love lives. All your focus goes elsewhere -- on this occasion probably to trying to work out how the deliberately mismatched couple got their hairstyles to look like that. And why?

Director Peyton Reed really does seem to be trying to probe for something more worthy, to find some insight into modern-day relationships, but it simply isn't there in a script that has failed to create interesting characters or a complex balance of humor and dramatic emotion. Trusting the stars -- who clearly could be (and have been) much more charming, interesting and intriguing and even attractive in better material -- to keep the simple story afloat simply doesn't work this time. They jabber on and on and on about who wants to go to the ballet and who wants to watch the ballgame, and you simply think, "Come on, not everything in life has to be shared. Work it out, or shut up." They don't shut up for 105 minutes, which is much too long.

The so-called romantic duo are surrounded by a bunch of quirkily talented actors, including Judy Davis as the brittle, ballsy owner of the art gallery where Brooke works, and Vincent D'Onofrio as Grobowski's twitchingly inhibited brother, co-owner of their tour guide business. But no amount of strenuous over-emoting on the part of any of the sidekicks brings truth to the whole. Chicago, where the contentious couple shares a duplex, which the break-up forces them to sell (though it looks too posh for them to have afforded in the first place) is also played only for its clichés -- ballpark included. Starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. Directed by Peyton Reed. Written by Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender. Produced Vince Vaughn and Scott Stuber. A Universal release. Romantic comedy. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, some nudity and language. Running time: 105 min

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