Thursday, June 01, 2006

TRH Movie - The Break-Up

So, I had the chance to see an advance screening of The Break-Up last night and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I went in fearing the curse of the Hollywood romance, which tends to ruin every single film if its two stars are linked, demolished by Hollywood gossip and destroyed by the glee of reviewers taking utter delight in condemning the product on the basis of said curse. And it's frustrating because it ruins many a decent film, with Gigli being the obvious exception, oh and, Proof of Life, which is terrible, and Eyes Wide Sh*t, I mean Shut. Well, maybe there's something to the curse after all.

All this means is that it's next to impossible to evaluate the film on its merits alone, what with the ridiculous amount of media attention the two stars have gotten, despite their attempts otherwise. Even knowing how wrong it is to search for clues of Anistan's personal pain in her performance, you find yourself (well, myself) doing it anyway, and then feeling hella-guilty afterwards.

Annnwaaay. The Break-Up, touted as the anti-romantic comedy of the summer, certainly succeeds in what it sets out to do. Gary and Brooke, Vaughn and Aniston respectively, meet at a Chicago Cubs game, fall in love and buy an awesome condo. After a particularly stereotypical dinner with their respective families coming together as one, the two have a massive argument and break up. Well, at least Gary thinks that they do; Brooke is under the impression she's 'teaching him a lesson' in how to be a better partner.

Funny business ensues as they both refuse to move out of their fab condo. And the ensuing situations all result from the fact that each is staying put until they absolutely can bare it no longer. The forced encampment, a staple of situation comedies, feels a bit cliched, but Vaughn and Aniston are both good, and have great chemistry, so it sort of works. It's not a great movie, but it's definitely better than I expected.

Both main female characters are stereotypical (Brooke plays head games; she wants Gary to go the ballet [and to "want to want to do the dishes"] but come on, any woman in that relationship would have given up that dream long ago, slapped on her Manolos and gone with a girlfriend anyway; Addie, her best friend, counsels and consoles with the best of them, yawn), but the movie is really about the evolution of Vaughn's character. In that sense, again, it's an anti-romcom, which is kind of nice.

Justin Long is hilarious as the obviously out receptionist at the art gallery where Brooke works, and the always terrific John Michael Higgins plays her Tone Ranger-loving brother, whose a cappella bursts annoy Gary to no end. And it's even good that most of the bits in the commercials don't necessarily represent the extent of hilarity in the movie—always a pleasant surprise. But in the end, the film succeeds because of Vaughn, his chemistry, his charm, his comic timing, and his ability to capitalize on the greatest casting coup of all times, Aniston, who is just coming off the world's most publicized break up of her own, and plays exceptionally well off of him.

All in all, I enjoyed it, and was glad to see it, despite the knuckleheads who are always at these free preview thingys. Even a half an hour into when the screening was supposed to start, they wander into the theatre looking aimlessly for seats, bothering people who are obviously saving them because they're the best in the house, munching on popcorn and speaking at the top of their lungs. How many ways can you say annoying?

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