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The Break-Up

Genre: Comedy/Romance
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
: Peyton Reed
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Favreau, Judy Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Cole Hauser, John Michael Higgins
Released by: Universal Pictures

In Short: Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn prove that breaking up really is hard to do, in this dark comedy that’s not afraid to speak truth.

We’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling…
The Harsh Reality of Incompatibility
By Andrew Bender

Sometimes opposites attract, but here…no. Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) is an art dealer, while her boyfriend Gary (Vince Vaughn) thinks that Michelangelo painted the Sixteen Chapel. Gary’s passion is the Chicago Cubs, while Brooke dreams of attending the ballet. He’s Mars, she’s Venus, she’s a babe, he’s out of shape, he’s a lout, she’s a nag.

So Brooke and Gary break up, and it gets ugly, fast. The schoolyard variety of humiliation and verbal bludgeoning in the "Break-Up" is enough to make one queasy. They divide their condo into territories, Brooke holds a vote to remove Gary from their bowling team, and Gary harasses Brooke’s a cappella singing brother (the hilarious John Michael Higgins). It’s a "War of the Roses" for the internet dating era—thankfully, minus the physical violence.

Physical violence or no, it’s dispiriting to spend an hour and a half watching people more bent on humiliating each other than getting on with their lives. You just want to shake them both and say “Stop!” Yet somehow director Peyton Reed ("Bring it On") humanizes these characters by never letting us forget that behind the ugly behavior there are real people who’ve been deeply hurt.

Jon Favreau is hilarious—and unrecognizable—as a paunchy, goateed bartender who is Gary’s confidant. And we hope and pray that this will be the movie that finally makes Judy Davis a s-t-a-r: as Brooke’s imperious boss, she doesn’t let middle age stop her from being a sex-kitten.

But what’s most remarkable about this film—and the reason we liked it despite all the ugliness—is that it’s not afraid to speak truth. Even if the ends don’t justify the means, it’s a rare and satisfying moment when Brooke and Gary finally get to the heart of the matter. For a comedy, "The Break-Up" is unusual, and refreshing.


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