June 1, 2006

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The Break-Up (PG-13)
Guests at the pre-wedding dinner thrown by snipping, bitter, divorced parents, we in the audience cringe and squirm our way through the awkward, uncomfortable The Break-Up, a movie that not only reminds me of why I disliked Friends but makes me question my fondness for Swingers.

Never have Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston seemed as unappealing as in their roles as Gary Grobowski and Brooke Meyers. Gary is a giant man-child; Brooke is a little too obsessed with grown-up perfection (but just a little, Gary is mostly just a jerk). We see our briefly-happy couple meet and, in a montage, grow close enough to decide to buy a condo together. But as they settle into domesticity, they find themselves constantly at odds and quickly have a blow-out fight that leads them to break up. Break up but not separate as both seem to want to keep the truly lovely condo they own together. (Neither a naked Aniston nor a hang-dog Vaughn did it for me in this film but the condo — with its wide hallway, wood floors, breathtaking view and absolutely heavenly kitchen — had me gazing longingly.) Also, Brooke dearly hopes Gary will see the error of his ways and straighten up.

What follows is roughly an hour and a half of the couple passive aggressively torturing each other interspersed with occasions on which the passive takes a break and the couple screams a shrill collection of clichés from every couple-argument ever. “You don’t appreciate me!” “You don’t tell me what you want!” “You never listen!” Save your $9 and just go home and pick a fight with your own spouse; at least you’ll have the fun of getting a few licks in.

Not only do Aniston (who seems to leave the deftness of The Good Girl-type performances at the door when she’s in mainstream movies) and Vaughn (devoid of the charm we’ve come to expect from him) disappoint but Jon Favreau, Justin Long and Vincent D’Onofrio fail to add any spark with their supporting characters. And in the director’s chair, Peyton Reed, director of the charming Down With Love and Bring It On, does nothing to liven up the gloom.

No, The Break-Up, it’s not me, it is you. D-


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