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A Romantic Comedy That's More Drama Than Anything Else
by Anhoni Patel on Jun 01, 2006
Like most men (read: people) Chicagoan Gary Grobowski (Vince Vaughn) does not like doing the dishes. He cares nothing for dinner table centerpieces. He hates the ballet. His girlfriend Brooke (Jennifer Aniston), however, wished these things were not the case. She just wished he cared a little more and appreciated her and (fill in the blank here).
Gary works as a (very funny) tour guide in his and his brothers company, aptly called 3 Bros. Bus Tours. He's a regular ol' guy: he likes to drink his beer, likes to watch "Sportcenter", and likes to play pool. The opening scene shows him and his buddy at a Cubs-White Sox game where he picks up Brooke who then enters -- as it told through the crafty use of montage -- into a two-year relationship with him. They even buy their own, very smartly furnished, condo together.
However, during a dinner party (as early as the third scene), it becomes apparent that Gary and Brooke are having some issues. The "honeymoon" is clearly over. They do that awful couple thing where they snap at one another in front of others creating many an awkward moment. Luckily Brooke's gay brother is there to liven things up a with an impromptu version of Men at Work's "Owner of a Lonely Heart" (making for one of the funniest scenes in the movie).
But all the singing in the world isn't going to save this relationship. Needless to say, after a particularly potent fight, Brooke and Gary call it quits. Honestly, this is one of the best couple fight scenes seen to date; it is very, VERY realistic. The writing is superbly choreographed and both Vaughn and Aniston demonstrate their abilities in this as well as another fight scene later on the film.
This is why, if you've ever been in a relationship, you'll be squirming uncomfortably in your seat wondering where all the jokes have gone. Wasn't this supposed to be a romantic comedy, you'll ask yourself? Even if the film was a drama, the fighting simply goes on too long. Their relationship is falling apart, they're a bad match, they hate each other -- we get it. We donít need to sit through a series of endless bickering and tortuous fights to be aware of this very obvious fact. Towards the end, you just want both of them to move the hell on.
The Break-Up is eighty-five percent drama and only fifteen percent comedy. Most of this comedy can be attributed to Vaughn who, like always, does this thing. However, Judy Davis as Brooke's vain, totalitarian employer Marilyn Dean is a scene-stealer as is Jon Favreau as Gary's buddy Johnny O. Other notable performances come from Gary's weird older brother Dennis (Vincent D'Onofrio filling his role with all the kooky vamp that he employs in his role as Detective Robert Goren in "Law & Order: Criminal Intent") and John Michael Higgins as Brooke's musically inclined brother Richard. Unfortunately, these endearing and funny supporting characters are overshadowed by Gary and Brooke's bitter, venomous dynamic. Even "Arrested Development's Jason Bateman is a downer here.
Despite several very funny lines, The Break-Up is not the light-hearted romantic comedy it's been marketed as. In fact, it's an advertisement for being single. Forever. Do not -- repeat -- do NOT go to this movie with a date: watching it will shrivel up any feelings of attraction or companionship you may have towards your date and the chances are high that you just may find yourself going through a break-up.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
by Anhoni Patel on Jun 01, 2006
Jennifer Aniston as Brooke and Vince Vaughn as Gary, images courtesy of Universal Pictures
John Michael Higgins as Richard
Gary and Brooke