Friday, July 21, 2006

THE BREAK-UP - not bad, just painful

THE BREAK-UP has been marketed as a romantic comedy but it’s really a relationship drama that happens to feature a character who is very funny. That character is Gary Grubowski, a tour-bus guide, sports-nut, slob and motor-mouth. He’s played by Vince Vaughn as a sort of grown-up and out-of-shape version of Trent from the brilliant dating comedy SWINGERS. Gary has a best-friend (Jon Favreau) and a younger brother who are also playing fifty-seven shades of Trent from SWINGERS, even down to replicating the “batting the bunny around speech” with a “feeding kitty some milk” speech. This is all good. The bent fork in the toaster is that Gary is in love with, and living with, a chick called Brooke, played by Jennifer Aniston. Brooke works in an art gallery and likes the ballet. She is pissed off with Gary for taking her for granted – which he does – and wants him to change. She reacts to this by being whiny and manipulative although clearly she is HURT so that’s okay.

The movie is sporadically funny – usually when Vaughn is doing his Trent schtick. But most of the time it is painful to watch. Not because it’s bad. It’s like if you’re out with two friends who keep arguing with each other, and you feel really awkward and just want to leave. Well, that’s pretty much what watching this movie is like. It also means that whenever the movie reverts to broader humour – notably in Judy Davis’ marvellous cameo as Brooke’s boss – the tone of the movie changes abruptly and jars. Also, a minor gripe, but why does every romantic comedy now have to have a scene where a family sits round a dining table and starts singing?

THE BREAK-UP was released in June 2006 in Singapore, Canada, the US, Australia, the Netherlands, Russia, Mexico, Belgium, France, Greece and Hungary. It was released in July in Portugal, Iceland and Thailand. It goes on release in the UK today. It opens in Argentina, Finland, Poland and Sweden on August 4th, Germany, Austria, Turkey and Venezuala on August 11th and Egypt on August 30th. It opens in Italy, Spain on September 22nd.

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