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June 7, 2006

Not a pleasant "Break-Up"

by Ethan Kuhnhenn, Online Managing Editor
"The Break-Up" sells itself as an original romantic comedy, but don't be fooled by the film's "unique" twist, it's the same old story in Vince and Jen's latest flop.

The heavily marketed, highly anticipated "Break-Up" gained almost notoriety for rumors regarding an affair between co-stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston, than for the film's aggressive advertising campaign, which hyped up the fact that the "break-up" begins where relationships end for some: in messy and painful splits. In some ways, the real-life drama between Vaughn and Aniston is probably more interesting and less predictable than director Peyton Reed's first-time attempt at cracking the romantic-comedy code.

"The Break-Up" essentially begins at the end of Gary (Vaughn) and Brooke's (Aniston) long, happy, but ultimately unsuccessful relationship. It's just another classic case of the "you don't appreciate me"'s that sets off the formerly happy couple's split, setting off a movie filled with same banal clichés present in any bad romance story. At first, Brooke and Gary play the silent treatment game, in hope that one or the other will apologize first. However, things get messy when they both refuse to give up their portion of the house, which leads to some cruel but uncreative antics on both party's sides.

It's not too hard to guess that the whole "romantic" element of this "romantic comedy" occurs after all the fighting subsides and the two, not surprisingly, realize that they still have feelings for each other. The problem is that this plot development is mapped out from the film's get-go; Stevie Wonder could have seen it coming.

"The Break-Up" isn't an attention grabber either, and often sloppily makes its way through plot and character development, hesitating to make a joke or two here and there. The punch-lines fizzle with too much extraneous dialogue and at times it looks as if Reed just let his actors ad lib their way through scenes. It works in some cases, and Vince Vaughn is especially adept at improvisation. However, in "The Break-Up," it's too much dialogue and not enough knee-slappers, too many corny one-liners in the romantic scenes and not not enough chemistry between Vaughn and the supporting cast.

With a better supporting cast and more chemistry between Vaughn and Anniston, "The Break-Up" could have easily been turned into a decent comedy, maybe not a laugh-out-loud knee-slapper, but it would at least have been a film that could hold an audience's attention for its alloted hour and a half. Instead, stale dialogue, a predictable plot and too much mushy-gushy romance turned it into just another waste of an honest $9.50.

"The Break-Up" (105 minutes, area theatres) is Rated PG-13 for sexual content, some nudity and language.



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