“The Break Up”, starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, is billed as a romantic comedy. It clearly is not. If anything, it is an allegory on the state of long term relationships and marriage. In many ways it reminded me of a singles’ version of “War of the Roses” or “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” True comedic moments are few and far between in the film. It is too fraught with bitterness, bordering on hatred. It is mean-spirited and yes, even down right ugly.
Neither Aniston nor Vaughn come across as particularly likeable characters in this movie. She is a little too anal retentive and he is the poster boy for slovenly excess. They are so obviously mismatched that one must wonder how they managed to develop a relationship in the first place. Still, obviously they do get together, buy a beautiful condo, and settle into what they clearly believe will be a lasting relationship. The set up is so wrong that the audience isn’t at all surprised when the two begin to bicker, then fight, and finally make all out war. The majority of the movie is actually spent with Aniston’s Brooke and Vaughn’s Gary playing mind games with each other, trying to one up each other, and finally moving into full destruct mode. I’m not sure why filmmakers thought a movie audience would want to see this kind of blatant disrespect and childishness.
I will admit, however, that I am a die-hard Aniston fan. I loved her in “Friends” and I loved many of her movies that critics so cruelly condemned. I still love her, even in this role. There is just something about Aniston that makes you want to pull for her no matter what she is doing. In many ways she reminds me of some of my all time favorite classic actresses like Doris Day or Sandra Dee. Maybe it is just that special “it” factor that Aniston so clearly possesses. I honestly can’t put a voice to the feeling. I just know that it exists. On the flip side, I’m not a big Vaughn fan. I have enjoyed some of his work and hated even more of it. Although he is obviously a master of the unkempt and immature every man, I simply don’t find that in any way endearing. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t go to a movie just because Vince Vaughn was in it. I do not think he has that kind of on-screen presence.
The weakness of this film, however, lies with the writing. It just wasn’t a particularly well developed screenplay. Even the strong supporting cast which included Jason Bateman as the couple’s realtor, Judy Davis as Brooke’s boss, and John Michael Higgins as her hilarious sexually ambiguous brother could not push or pull or cajole this movie into a winning format.
“The Break Up” was directed by Peyton Reed who also directed “Down With Love.” However, where the latter movie was so obviously tongue-in-cheek and full of rich, humorous, delightful characters, “The Break Up” just can’t claim the same.
Sorry guys, this film only rates one star in my point of view; strictly for Aniston herself.
This is a Universal Studios Picture. It is one hour and 47 minutes in length. It carries a PG-13 rating for some sexual situations.