A comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort's therapy sessions is not optional.
A bounty hunter learns that his next target is his ex-wife, a reporter working on a murder cover-up. Soon after their reunion, the always-at-odds duo find themselves on a run-for-their-lives adventure.
A widower whose book about coping with loss turns him into a best-selling self-help guru, falls for the hotel florist where his seminar is given, only to learn that he hasn't yet truly confronted his wife's passing.
John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey, a pair of committed womanizers who sneak into weddings to take advantage of the romantic tinge in the air, find themselves at odds with one another when John meets and falls for Claire Cleary.
In Chicago, the art dealer Brooke Meyers feels not appreciated and neglected by her immature boyfriend Gary Grobowski, who is partner with his two brothers in a tourism business, and decides to break-up with him to make Gary miss her. Gary misunderstands her true intention, both follow the wrong advice of family members and friends, beginning a war of sexes with no winner. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
There's a moment in "The Break-Up" when art gallery owner Marilyn Dean (Judy Davis) turns to Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) and says, "This isn't surrealism. This isn't cubism. This is paint-by-numbers." Marilyn's referring to Brooke's relationship crisis with Gary (Vince Vaughn), but she very well could have been talking about the film. Of course, I doubt the writers, Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavendar, have that much of a sense of irony.
I realize there are loads of disappointed moviegoers who went in expecting a romantic comedy - and the film's trailers are to blame for that, I suppose - and, instead, found a bleakly dark film about the break-up of a relationship. Frankly, that's the only refreshing thing about this film.
This isn't a pat romantic comedy. However, it has all the trappings and clichés of one, down to the obligatory best friend for each main character. In Brooke's case, it is Addie, played by Joey Lauren Adams, who still has the cutest husky voice on film. And for Gary, there's Johnny O, played by Jon Favreau (what a shock!).
I have no problem sitting through a film that recounts a couple's break-up and the lengths to which they go to make the other miserable and/or jealous. However, in "The Break-Up," neither Gary nor Brooke is all that interesting a person. And - talk about suspension of disbelief
it's incredibly tough to swallow that these two would ever have found
each other even vaguely interesting.
Both Brooke and Gary are pedestrian people. Their arguments are, to quote Marilyn, paint-by-numbers. He's immature and accuses her of always nagging him; she complains he never listens to her and takes her for granted.
So we get to see these two bicker and yell about nothing; their methods to make each other jealous are neither inventive nor humorous. Watching this movie, I remembered how much I enjoyed "The War of the Roses" (1989), a superb, dark comedy about a disintegrating relationship. But that film was smart, had passion and Oliver and Barbara Rose's revenge was gleefully funny. There was something perversely delightful about that film. And we understood why Oliver and Barbara Rose liked each other so much, thanks to terrific chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.
I have no idea whether Aniston and Vaughn have any on-screen chemistry. Because in "The Break-Up," we never ever get a sense of why Brooke and Gary are together or what brought them together. The film would've been well served had Garelick and Lavendar thought to give us a glimpse of these two people in love, so that we could then understand and sympathize when we saw their relationship crumbling. Instead, the writers resort to lazy storytelling. The film is peopled with dull and/or typical characters. The only pleasant surprise is Jason Bateman, turning an underwritten role of a rather slimy real estate agent into something that, at least, makes one smile. The always-terrific Vincent D'Onofrio's sparse scenes only make us yearn for more of him in this movie.
The others are true toss-aways. What Ann-Margret is doing in this movie as Brooke's mom is beyond me. They couldn't have plucked any middle-aged woman off the street for this thankless role? Ann-Margret's only purpose seems to be to provide some sort of musical background for a dinner-table scene that just strains to be funny. Apparently, we continue paying the price for "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997).
There's nothing wrong about watching a movie about the break-up of a relationship. Francois Ozon handled the subject matter beautifully in "5X2" (2004), and just before I saw "The Break-Up," I watched another the French film, "Clara et Moi" (2004). Now, there was a film dealing with real issues, gave us characters we cared about and with whom we sympathized because we knew what brought them together and why they loved each other. Compared to those two films, "The Break-Up" seems downright mediocre and superficial, which is exactly what it is.
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