Let me start off by saying that I wanted so badly to love 'The Break-Up.' I wanted it to take the romantic comedy genre, turn it on its formulaic head and then kick it in the groin for good measure. And, before seeing the film, that scenario seemed not only possible but entirely probable. With his star-making turn in 'Wedding Crashers,'Vince Vaughn gave guys like me -- who long for days of yore when Hollywood had the stones to make movies like 'Animal House' -- hope that there might just be some unexplored territory in the comedic world. And the concept behind 'The Break-Up,' that it starts after most romantic comedies end -- after the first kiss and the "honeymoon period," when you've been with a person so long that you know exactly how long it takes them to clip their toenails -- was an extremely promising one. Alas, the reality of the matter is that 'The Break-Up' is not a comedic Louisiana Purchase, and Vaughn and co-star Jennifer Aniston are not (in this movie, anyway) a newfangled Lewis and Clark. If that doesn't make sense, you'll have to excuse me. I just ran into the incomparably adorable Sarah Silverman while buying Twizzlers in my office kitchen, so I'm a little bit distracted.
But I digress. As you can probably tell, I didn't love 'The Break-Up.' But I did like it. There's this thing called chemistry, and Vaughn and Aniston have that in spades. And for the first hour, the movie revels in their vitriolic yet fun repartee. The basic plot goes a little something like this: Brooke (Aniston) breaks up with Gary (Vaughn) after a particularly bitter argument over centerpiece lemons. Gary is too self-involved to see that Brooke really wants to get back together with him, so he refuses to move out of their condo and sets out to annoy her so much that she'll move out. Gary does so by watching TV really loud in the middle of the night, replacing their dining room table with a pool table and holding strip poker tournaments complete with large-chested women. Not to be outdone, Brooke tries dating other guys, lets her brother's a cappella group The Tone Rangers practice in the condo, and walks around the apartment naked to show Gary just what it is he's missing. And when all this is going on, the movie works for two reasons: 1) It's fun to see the things people do to torture their exes and 2) No one plays a fast-talking man-child like Vince Vaughn.
Unfortunately, just as relationships end, so do the good times in this film. With about half an hour left, 'The Break-Up' doesn't just take a wrong turn; it completely veers off course and becomes a drama. The fights between Brooke and Gary, amusing at first, become harsher and harsher -- and kind of uncomfortable to watch.
So basically my advice to you is this. Go watch the first hilarious hour and fifteen minutes of this flick. Then, if you really want to feel uncomfortable, walk home from the theater with your pants around your ankles.
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