On the surface, The Break-Up, starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, would appear to follow in the long tradition of formulaic Hollywood romantic comedies. Boy Meets Girl; Boy Falls Madly in Love With Girl; Boy and Girl Hit Some Speed Bumps (and yes, even break up); and in the end, Love Conquers All. Add equal portions of hilariously quirky friends, pithy-yet-humorous lines and someone running to the airport to catch someone else leaving, and serve.
There' a reason this formula exists: it works. People go to the movies wanting escapism, and expecting this formula to be delivered. Unfortunately, The Break-Up fails to deliver in several respects. In what can only be described as a misguided attempt at originality, the film tries to deviate from the tried and true romantic comedy formula, leaving us with a film that never really hits its stride and fails to satisfy its audience. The Break-Up is better classified as a dramedy, with only a few laughs courtesy of Vince Vaughn (and one from long-time friend and costar Jon Favreau). But a few laughs does not a comedy make.
The real-life broken-up Aniston plays Brooke Meyers, a character whose name already implies that she' a character who' chic, sophisticated and educated. In the "opposites attract" vein, Vaughn plays Gary Grobowski, proud Polack and all-around average good guy, who runs his own tour company in Chicago. He' the prototypical regular Joe -- he drinks beer, he loves baseball and yes, he plays X-Box. We're all supposed to be able to relate.
Vaughn even appears heavy and bloated throughout the film. Whether this was an intentional weight-gain to give the character more of an everyman feel, or unintentional due to Vaughn having stopped smoking during filming, it was a mistake by producers to have him looking like a beached whale for the film's running time. We can only suspend disbelief so far, and thinking that the beautiful, educated and erudite Aniston character would find the sweaty, overweight and rough-around-the-edges Vaughn to be in any way a catch would cause most peoples' brains to explode about thirty minutes into the film. (Also: If their on-screen chemistry is any indication of how things are going off-screen, the real-life Vaughn-Aniston relationship has about two weeks to go. Tops.)
Vaughn has a few funny lines, utilizing his now-trademark rapid-fire delivery. But the film doesn't give us enough moments like these, or for that matter enough of anything we'd expect expect to see in a film like this. The only thing worth mentioning about The Break-Up is John Michael Higgins (perhaps best known as playing David Letterman in the film adaptation The Late Shift), who steals just about every scene he' in.
Save your money. Wait for this puppy to come on cable and then, only watch it if there' nothing else on. You won't be broken up over missing it.
Let us pitch you a sitcom ...
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Some people in entertainment don't even bother trying to come up with fresh ideas.