I’ve reviewed a ton of bad mainstream comedies in the last
two and a half years. The worst and most repulsive of them usually
star Ashton Kutcher (Guess Who and A
Lot Like Love). Most recently, the curse continued with Just
And now, The Break-Up with Vince Vaughn
(also co-producer and co-writer), who is at an all-time career high
after getting his comedic groove back in Old School, followed
by such hits as Starsky And Hutch, Dodgeball,
Mr. And Mrs. Smith, and, of course, The Wedding Crashers.
It seems anything Vaughn is a part of these days turns to gold,
save for maybe Be Cool.
While my Hollywood roommate and fellow UT RTF alum, Jason
Elliott, and I were driving to the San Diego Comic Con
last July, Vaughn himself was on a local radio station promoting
The Wedding Crashers, but what caught my interest was when
he began talking about this movie, which he called an “anti-romantic
comedy” also starring Jennifer Aniston. This
would be a movie that’s not about a couple getting together,
but about a couple breaking up.
Well, that’s interesting. And it’s not something Hollywood
conglomerates want to bet on, especially with their big summer tent-poles.
But that’s what I loved about this extremely hilarious but
also surprisingly grounded film about the systematic melt-down of
what seems to start as an average heterosexual relationship. So
you have Gary (Vaughn) and Brooke (Anniston) as the star-crossed
couple: They get together pre-opening credits, and by the end of
the first act, they’ve broken up. The problem is that neither
one of them wants to move out of their co-owned condo. Brooke tries
to get Gary to break, beginning a battle of wills. If I was doing
the Hollywood pitch I’d probably call it a “friendlier”
War Of The Roses.
Gary and Brooke are made to be very likable people by the performances
of Vaughn and Aniston, who both do a great job of showing us the
backgrounds and motivations of their characters. But as couples
sometimes are when they have their petty differences or skirmishes,
they are too stubborn to put these things aside in order to move
forward with each other.
The Break-Up features, in my humble opinion, the best
and strongest supporting cast I’ve seen in a movie in a long
time. Pretty much every supporting player does dynamite work here,
and I was left in complete and total awe of it. It’s refreshing
because a lot of movies these days do not have supporting casts
that are this exceptional. Justin Long (current
Mac computer spokesman) who I absolutely loathed in Waiting
and sort of tolerated in Dodgeball, morphs for the first
time into a different and entertaining character, proving that he
does have range. Hauser and the always eclectic
D’Onofrio portray Gary’s brothers,
the ridiculously sleaze-ball Lupus and stuff-shirt Dennis respectively.
Basically these are three-dimensional characters and they ascend
mere supporting player archetypes and stereotypes and leave an impression
on you. Even the actors who only have a few lines or a few scenes
such as “Arrested Development’s” Jason
Bateman, or A Christmas Story’s Peter
Billingsley make the most of them, and nothing is phoned
The other thing I wanted to say in support of this movie is that
the comedy is great. The boundaries of taste are never once broken
or even pushed. Not once will you hear a fart, or any reference
or visual gags pertaining to defecation, ejaculation, urination,
or pretty much any old gross gag or gimmick that you normally see
in American comedies today. Thank God for a comedy that takes a
risk by NOT indulging in these elements and avoids an interest in
the scatological. And it doesn’t take away from the movie
at all. I think it just makes it even more superior and exceptional.
I wouldn’t exactly call it “high-brow,” but mainstream
comedies today have become so dirty that I feel it’s important
to note how relatively clean and tame this movie is while still
bringing the laughs and hilarity.
I think the ultimate question is how audiences will take it. In
the past and most recent work of Vaughn I mentioned above, you have
some pretty harmless and carefree escapist entertainment. This movie,
as hilarious and entertaining as it is, has a quality of startling
weight and gravitas. I think the conflict will ultimately turn out
to be that the subject matter might end up hitting too close to
home, and that the movie isn’t exactly delivering the carefree
escape from everyday life a la The Wedding Crashers that
general movie-goers might’ve been hoping for. Overall, what
this movie does is pretty fucking ballsy, and I was the only one
openly and loudly applauding at the end of the press screening.
So, mazeltov to The Break-Up for delivering one of the
best and most realistic mainstream comedies in years.
—Jeffrey “The Vile One” Harris