We've all been there before, haven't we? You're in a relationship and you've come to a point where things just aren't clicking anymore, and the tiniest little molehills become mountains in an instant. It usually only takes a few weeks to get to this stage for me, but I digress. We've all been here before cinematically as well. There are piles of flicks that deal with breaking up and crap like that, but while The Break-Up isn't entirely original, it gives us a bit of a makeover on the topic, not to mention the brilliant pairing (apparently in real life as well) of Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston.
The flick starts off at Wrigley Field in good ol' Chicago where Gary (Vince Vaughn) and his buddy Johnny (Jon Favreau) are taking in a ballgame. While Vaughn is chiding Johnny for being an obnoxious White Sox fan (it's an interleague game with the Sox vs. Cubs), he notices Brooke (Aniston) down the row from him. He buys a bunch of hot dogs and insists, rather humorously, that she has one, which she does. After the game he keeps persisting and the relationship is off and rolling, and we see during the opening credits, a bunch of snapshots chronicling their relationship. But then after the credit sequence, we see how shaky the relationship really is, as Brooke tries to prepare for a dinner with their two families while Gary doesn't help much at all. Of course, things come to a head and after the dinner they get in a big fight and break up. The rub here is that they have this awesome condo that neither is willing to let go of, and what ensues is basically a 21st century version of War of the Roses, only all mental battles and one-ups instead of flinging stuff at their heads.
This movie works because of a combination of a sharp script by Jay Lavender and Jeremy Garelick, with Vince Vaughn also getting a story credit here, and the pair of Vaughn and Aniston. Their exchanges and little spats are so inane, which of course makes them incredibly real. They get in a huge fight about frickin lemons, for Christ's sake. Vaughn is, as always, at the top of his game and it's almost shocking that we can't be sick of him yet, since he basically has the same song and dance in every flick. But we're not sick of him yet because he has this wonderful ability to subtly adapt his shtick to the different characters he portrays. Aniston is back in top form here as well, showing some great range and delivering the picture-perfect lines on point.
The sad thing about this flick is that Lavender and Garelick's script is set up too perfectly, and the ending is lose-lose no matter how they do it. If you end with them back together, it's too Hollywood, and if you end with them apart but friendly, it's too Woody Allen. I won't tell you which way they went here, but you get the drift. While the flick is better than any I've seen in a long time at getting down the subtle realities of a relationship, both the ups and downs, it just seemed to sputter out at the end. I'm also a little curious if they added the "Telly Sevalas" bikini wax scene after the success of The 40 Year Old Virgin, but it's just a tiny part anyway.
While the rest of the supporting cast is surprisingly diverse for a flick that centers around two people, they could've easily pared it down a notch or two. We get some smashing supporting turns from Judy Davis, as Aniston's eccentric employer, Jon Favreau is a blast as Gary's bartender friend Johnny, Cole Hauser as Gary's womanizer younger brother, Joey Lauren Adams as Brooke's sister and Jason Bateman as Gary and Brooke's mutual friend and realtor. But they could've easily cut out Justin Long's really weird turn as the receptionist at the art gallery, Vincent D'Onofrio as Gary's older and possibly retarded brother and John Michael Higgins as Brooke's possibly gay brother. I've been seeing this in a lot of flicks lately, where they just overstuff the flick with characters that aren't really needed. I thought from the trailer that Higgins would have a much bigger role here, when he's really only on screen for a few scenes. This movie is really just about two people, and while you do need a few supporting parts for the guy and girl to console with or get advice from, they just peppered the flick with too many of these types, and it's annoying because some of the smaller parts are acted rather well, but since they have to get everyone else in, it goes somewhat unnoticed.
When it all comes down to it, The Break-Up is a pretty damn entertaining movie. It's an incredibly realistic tale of two sexes, and it intricately details the whims of both to a T. But while the majority of the movie is so in tune to reality, I was a little dissapointed that the ending really wasn't.