Friday, May 26, 2006

OUCH! They say save your $$ with "The Breakup"

Aniston, Vaughn bomb in "The Break-Up"By Michael Rechtshaffen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Given Vince Vaughn's recent success with landing punch lines, there was considerable hope that if anybody could inject a little zip into the stagnating romcom, he'd be the guy to pull it off.

And he still might -- one of these days.

In the meantime, there's "The Break-Up," a major disappointment of an anti-romantic comedy for which Vaughn shares producer and story credits in addition to sharing the screen with real-life squeeze Jennifer Aniston.

After a promisingly quirky start, "Break-Up" suffers a major breakdown from which it never recovers.

Audiences expecting a good time will instead be rewarded with wildly unsympathetic lead characters and uncomfortably long stretches without a laugh in sight. While they might initially be drawn in by the marketing department's promise of something a lot more entertaining, the end box office result will likely be less than amicable.

Initially meeting at a baseball game, Chicago tour guide Gary Grobowski (Vaughn) manages to persuade art gallery employee Brooke Meyers (Aniston) to dump her male friend and go out with him basically by buying her a hot dog.

Flash forward to the couple living in what isn't exactly domestic bliss, with Brooke running around getting ready to host a dinner party for their families while Gary contentedly parks himself in front of the television.

With the cracks in their relationship finally reaching the breaking point, Brooke finally calls Gary for the jerk he is, but in her little schemes to make him realize the errors of his ways, Brooke only ends up matching him in the bad behavior department.

But what could have at best played out like a wilted "War of the Roses" ends up looking a lot more like Rob Reiner's misbegotten "The Story of Us."

It would have helped if director Peyton Reed ("Bring It On," "Down With Love") had been as concerned with giving his audience characters worth investing in as he was with all those stylish visual compositions, but the script, by first-time feature writers Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender, constantly leaves its actors in the lurch.

While Vaughn and Aniston do some solid emoting, the comedic element, such as it is, never feels organic to the rest of the film. Hints of what might have been can be found in colorful supporting turns from Vaughn's old "Swingers" pal Jon Favreau as his bartender buddy Johnny O; Judy Davis as Aniston's hysterically harsh gallery boss, Marilyn Dean; and especially Christopher Guest regular John Michael Higgins as Aniston's brother, Richard, who is obsessed with singing in his all-male a cappella group, the Tone Rangers.

But by the time the tacked-on ending to end all tacked-on endings arrives -- in which Vaughn's considerable, continuity-throwing weight loss is dealt with by Aniston noting, "You've lost weight" -- "The Break-Up" and its audience have long ago parted ways.

Gary Grobowski: Vince Vaughn
Brooke Meyers: Jennifer Aniston
Maddie: Joey Lauren Adams
Wendy Meyers: Ann-Margret
Riggleman: Jason Bateman
Marilyn Dean: Judy Davis
Dennis Grobowski: Vincent D'Onofrio
Johnny O: Jon Favreau
Lupus Grobowski: Cole Hauser
Richard Meyers: John Michael Higgins
Christopher: Justin Long
Director: Peyton Reed;
Screenwriters: Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender;
Story by: Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender;
Producers: Vince Vaughn, Scott Stuber;
Executive producers: Peter Billingsley, Stuart Besser;
Director of photography: Eric Edwards;
Production designer: Andrew Laws; Editors: David Rosenbloom, Dan Lebental;
Costume designer: Carol Oditz; Music: Jon Brion.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter 05/26/06 02:32 © Copyright Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of Reuters Ltd.

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