Break-Up, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: -1/2

Content: -4

Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Joey Lauren Adams, Ann-Margret, Judy Davis, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jon Favreau. Romantic comedy. Story by Vince Vaughn. Screenplay by Jeremy Garelick & Jay Lavender. Directed by Peyton Reed.

Boy has met girl and our story begins with them living happily ever after. But maddening reality quickly shatters their rose-colored, opposites-attract story. Hes a blue collar tour bus guide who plays video games and forgets that garbage goes in a can, while shes a cultured curator who demands an orderly, classy lifestyle. Theyre Oscar and Felix. Without much ado, they break up (hence the clever title). The quarreling twosome is suddenly at war over the shared condo, and when neither is willing to move out, the only solution is to continue living as antagonistic roommates until somebody caves.

Well, heres the good news; only Three Horsemen to go. For surely, this abomination has clanged the apocalyptic death knell for the romantic comedy.

Dissatisfied with the comedy/romance material he had been offered, Vince Vaughn decided to write one for himself. But storytelling should not be entered into lightly by frustrated movie stars who think they can do it better than say, a real writer. Aided by romantic-comedy neophytes Jeremy Garelick & Jay Lavender, this atrocity with its harsh, profane and mindless excursion into the world of life partnering will surely doom the genre as we knew it.

I suppose it can be argued that the story is a cautionary tale for young lovers who decide to cohabitate; but is anybody really going to learn life lessons from this clumsy attempt? Its not satire or parody or drawing room witty. Its a film for those who think Larry the Cable Guy is high art. I take that back. At least good old Larry has some original observations. The Break-Up and Vince Vaughn as writer of said story, dont.

Oh, sure, there are some laughs; both stars have lots of comic timing under their belts. The funniest lines, however, are regurgitated from hipper, more amusing movie ancestors. Here we have jokes mined from not one, but two stereotypical gay characters (one singing a show tune during dinner and moving about the dinning room as if supported by fairy dust). Then there is the hulkish best friend (Jon Favreau) who dispenses sexist advice and a vampirish art gallery diva played by Judy Davis as if she were channeling Tallulah Bankhead. (All this has been executed before with far more aplomb.) There simply isnt an original character or thought in the entire film. And Mr. Vaughn seems incapable of expressing frustration, or any other emotion for that matter, without uttering Gods name followed by a curse.

Even in this day and age, when the audience is used to writers incorporating the profane expression GD into nearly every script, its jarring effect especially alters the tone of the romantic comedy, or even the anti-romantic comedy (which is what I guess this is supposed to be).

Forgive the harshness, but Im angered that the builders of the romantic comedy genre (Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks, George Cukor) have been undermined by this obscene tripe. What Mr. Vaughn and his partners in crime have done is comparable to todays politicians who abuse the memory of Adams, Lincoln, and Roosevelt (both of them). Containing all the viciousness of The War of the Roses, yet none of the pithy satire, and with its melancholy The Way We Were-like ending, The Break-Up leaves filmgoers with one hostile, depressing and brainless movie.

Allow me to suggest a video alternative: The Awful Truth. This classic screwball comedy has Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a divorced couple sabotaging each others new relationships. Oh, I dont kid myself; few from this generation will watch a black-and-white movie -- from the 1940s, no less. Too bad. Its a perfect example of a romantic comedy. May the genre rest in peace.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Most of the crudeness, and theres a lot of it, springs from sexual comments, references to body parts, and a few coarse comic visuals, such as a sculpture of a man with a water spigot used as a penis. The word whore is used and she calls him a p----.

Obscene Language: 18 s-words, 1 f-word, 10 minor expletives (damns & hells) 3 ass----.

Profanity: 22 GDs, 8 Js; these profanities mainly come from the male lead.

Violence: A comic martial arts demonstration as a gay man beats up the macho lead. Blood: A bloody nose.

Sex: The couple live together outside marriage, but there are no graphic sexual scenes. Scantily clad women playing strip poker. No nudity in this scene, but the attire is provocative.

Nudity: We see both a male and female naked from behind in two separate scenes.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Many crude sexual comments.

Drugs: Lots of social drinking.

Other: It is obvious that the couple, who each profane both Gods name and Christs on several occasions, pay little heed to biblical teaching about such language.

Running Time: 106 minutes
Intended Audience: The Crude and the Profane

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