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"The Break-Up": More than meets the preview

by JD Warnock on June 2, 2006

in Print Reviews

It shouldn’t come as a monumental shock that the new movie “The Break-Up” is actually about…wait for it…a break up. In spite of the slightly misleading previews that tout the film as a quirky romantic comedy, “The Break-Up” is a worthwhile gem, one that avoids many of the typical pitfalls of relationship stories and manages to balance funny and melancholy in equal measure.

Could there be a more timely “it couple” to have on the big screen this summer?

Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn are currently one of the most heavily-covered Hollywood couples, the yin to Brangelina’s yang. The celebrity aspect of the film will certainly drive curiosity and opening weekend box office, but the kicker is that Aniston and Vaughn actually have an intriguing chemistry as art dealer Brooke Meyers and bus tour guide Gary Grobowski.

After a long series of similar roles, Vaughn finally gives us a little something new. Unlike his work in “Wedding Crashers” and “Dodgeball,” this slightly nuanced character has just enough extra depth and range to be labelled a refreshing change.

It is through Aniston’s character and rich performance, though, that the film so successfully negotiates one of life’s great constants– the dissolution of a previously blissful relationship. She may not deserve an Oscar nod for “The Break-Up,” but she continues to be extraordinarily likable and make good choices. It is appealing to watch a powerful female character who gets lots of laughs while maintaining her self-respect and dignity.

Vincent D’Onofrio and Jon Favreau serve the film well in their limited screen time in fabulous supporting roles. The film gets more help from notable supporting actors Jason Bateman, Ann-Margret and an all-grown-up Peter Billingsley, the unforgettable kid from “A Christmas Story.”

“The Break-Up” directed by Peyton Reed (“Down With Love”) is as funny, but also a considerably more subtle film than “Meet the Parents.” Although they both take high-stress real life situations as their story’s backbone, “The Break-Up” has a somber tone and sincere heart about it. It manages to be incredibly funny without resorting to gimmicks and gutter humor, although it does flirt with it occasionally.

It is not what it appears to be from looking at the trailer. Honestly, “The Break-Up” is quite a bit more substantial. It is an entertaining and laughable look at one of life’s inevitabilities. The film has a few continuity issues (specifically, its afterthought of a final scene) but so does splitting up with someone you loved, so in this case, I guess it fits.

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