Break-Up, The (2006) **
Director: Peyton Reed. Written by Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender, Vince Vaughn. Photography: Eric Alan Edwards. Editing: Dan Lebental, David Rosenbloom. Production Design: Andrew Laws. Producers: Stuart Besser, Peter Billingsley. MPAA rating PG-13. Running time -- 105 minutes. Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn, Joey Lauren Adams, Cole Hauser, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Judy Davis (as Marilyn Dean)
It's rather sad to give such a low rating to a film with Jennifer Aniston (born 1969 USA), especially since just weeks ago I saw her very good performance in the very good film FRIENDS WITH MONEY (2006).
FYI: "Aniston" is the Americanization of her father's Greek name, Anasstasakis. It is amusing to track down the original names of Greeks in show business. Example: (Constantine) Alexander Payne, b. 1961 Omaha, Nebraska, the successful director of ABOUT SCHMIDT (2002) and SIDEWAYS (2004), was originally Alexandros Papadopoulos.
THE BREAK-UP begins at Chicago's Wrigley Field during a Cubs game. Vociferous super-fan Gary (Vaughn) comes on to Brooke (Aniston), who is there with a date. After this, we never see that date again.
Cut to a montage of pictures that's meant to indicate the creation of a new twosome: Gary and Brooke. Cut again to a time two years later when they are living in the large, posh condo they purchased together.
Gary and his two brothers own a bus-tour company; Gary gives tours of Chicago. He is supremely loud and energetic, and the Chicago sequences are probably the best thing in the movie. However, if the pleasant views of the Windy City please the movie-goer's eyes, the sight of Gary and Brooke at home is a depressing one. His undeniable energy at work and with his buddies is replaced by a card-carrying couch potato, totally focused on TV, games of all types, and of course the Cubs. To this writer, the video games range from dumb to dumber.
While this is going on, all burdens of the household (you name them) fall on Brooke's shoulders, and this is in addition to her full-time job at an art gallery owned by rather vampire-ish painter Marilyn Dean (Judy Davis, whose considerable acting talents are wasted here).
Brooke and Gary break up shortly after a ridiculous dinner party for which all of the work was done by Brooke. The split is unusual in that the couple remains in the condo. They "divide" the space and each one tries to make the other annoyed enough to leave. What follows is partly inspired by "The Odd Couple," partly by (apparently) memories of FRIENDS and the endless, pointless fights between Rachel and Ross when they were, or had just been, "on a break."
I won't reveal the ending (if indeed there is one) here, but I will say that the most striking aspect of this film goes both ways: Brooke, relatively speaking, seems to have class; Gary has absolutely none. In simple terms, he is a Jerk. They have absolutely nothing in common. In WEDDING CRASHERS (2005), Vince Vaughn shared the spotlight with Owen "The Nose" Wilson. The Vaughn-Wilson pairing made far more sense than the Vaughn-Aniston pairing at least, on screen. In WEDDING CRASHERS, satire and all, there were stretches of elegance and class. There are none here.
In THE BREAK-UP, Gary's pals keep telling him "You are a fun guy." Yes, he is, but he has very low standards. In one sequence, for example, he and his buddies spend a night playing naked Poker with hookers. It could have been worse they might have chosen to play naked Crisco Twister. And that is also my conclusion about THE BREAK-UP: It could have been worse. You must remember this: Just as a kiss is still a kiss, a jerk is still a jerk.