Hollywood Hues

Give me a break

A hackneyed plot of marital discords with no fresh approach makes The Break-Up merely academic, says Ervell E Menezes

Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in The Break-up
Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in The Break-up

Leo Tolstoy may have written about the battle of the (marital) bedroom but in The Break-up we have something wider, the battle for the house, which naturally is because He and She cannot just hit it out together and hence want to go their separate ways.

He is Garry (Vince Vaughn), a garrulous tour guide who longs for a bit of peace and quiet when he gets home. She is Brooke (Jennifer Aniston), an uptight gallery assistant who is bugged by having to put up with an eccentric gallery boss (Judy Davis) and doing the chores at home.

"I want you to want to do some things for me," Brooke tells Garry but he’s more at home playing computer games. When they host a dinner, it is Brooke’s family (you don’t marry the girl, you marry her family) that dominates the conversation.

But it’s the beginning of battle-royale. Garry leaves the bedroom. The next day he gets a pool table into his room and is playing with his pals when Brooke unexpectedly returns home. It is an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better situation and the tiff threatens to get physical.

But what begins promisingly, peters out into an overlong middle. The screenplay by Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender is quite mediocre with predictable and at times trite lines. Director Peyton Reed is unable to infuse much interest in the proceedings after the onset on the battle. The cameos are weak, with former sex kitten Ann-Margaret just marking her presence as Brooke’s mum in the dinner sequence.

The troubles is that today Hollywood is only too keen to cash in on star power. They get two big stars together and create a story of some kind. It happened with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Mr and Mrs Smith with disastrous results.

Formerly we said stars do not make a film but today they are slotted to. That Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn were reportedly being romantically involved further fuelled this combination.

If A1 Capone’s city of Chicago is meant to enhance the subject it hardly helps. When one takes up as hackneyed a subject as marital discords, there must be something fresh in its approach. The sad part of The Break-up is not only its on-and-on middle but that it eventually runs out of ideas. Why, even Vince Vaughn, an accepted comedian, looks jaded as the film progresses and Jennifer Aniston is not much better. The co-stars are merely academic. So is The Break-up if one wants to call a spade a spade.