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Peyton Reed
Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Judy Davis, Justin Long, Ivan Sergei
Writing Credits:
Vince Vaughn (story), Jeremy Garelick (and story), Jay Lavender (and story)

... pick a side.

After their latest squabble, art dealer Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) decides to break up with her boyfriend, Gary (Vince Vaughn), who hosts bus tours of Chicago. But breaking up and moving out is hard to do, especially when the former couple's friends and family (and even complete strangers) offer their advice on how to deal with the situation. To make matters worse, the former flames live in a sweet downtown condo, and neither of them wants to move out.

Box Office:
$52 million.
Opening Weekend
$39.172 million on 3070 screens.
Domestic Gross
$118.683 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 10/17/2006

• Audio Commentary with Director Peyton Reed
• Audio Commentary with Actors Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston
• Alternate Ending with Optional Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Extended Scenes
• Outtakes
• Improv with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau with Optional Commentary
• “In Perfect Harmony: The Tone Rangers” Featurette
• “The Making of The Break-Up” Featurette
• “Three Brothers: A Tour of Chicago” Interactive Guide
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Break-Up (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 1, 2006)

Today’s movie-going lesson: never trust trailers. Based on its promos, 2006’s The Break-Up looked like a mix of Wedding Crashers and The War of the Roses. Instead, the flick ended up as little more than a lackluster, anonymous relationship piece.

Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) meet cute, fall in love, and buy a condo together. After two years, however, the bloom is off the rose. They throw a dinner party that leads to bickering, and Brooke essentially ends the relationship.

However, she doesn’t really want to split with Gary – she just wants him to stop taking her for granted and to give more of herself. Gary sees the situation as a done deal, though, and he’s angered. Rather than attempt to kiss and makeup, he goes on the offensive. Neither will leave the condo, so they run into conflicts as they deal with each other.

Perhaps I shouldn’t criticize a movie for false advertising, but I find it tough not to fault Break-Up for its misleading promos. The trailers really provided an erroneous impression of the film, as the final product is significantly darker and more serious than the ads would have us believe.

Audiences clearly found it tough to accept this. When I saw the film theatrically, the first act included many inappropriate laughs. This was particularly noteworthy during the titular break-up sequence. As shown in the trailer, this looks like a barrel of laughs, but it plays as significantly more dramatic in the full movie. Conditioned by those ads, the crowds tittered at the scene even though the segment lacked much that was intended to be funny.

Even if I divorce my impressions of the trailer from the end result, Break-Up comes up short. It neither provides a deep examination of relationships nor a funny take on those issues. It straddles the two areas in an uncomfortable manner that ensures an unsatisfying final product.

Part of the problem comes from the Gary character. A better movie might balance both sides of the relationship equation but this one makes sure that only Brooke seems even remotely logical. All she wants is for Gary to stop being so selfish, and I can’t blame her. The film doesn’t posit her as clingy, needy or pushy. She just wants basic recognition of what she does, and when Gary refuses to offer that support, he looks like a jerk.

This leaves a major hole in the center of the film. Gary is downright unlikable, and her continued pursuit of him makes Brooke seem like a moron. I feel like it should be the other way around, as Gary should count his lucky stars he landed a babe like Brooke. Instead, he ignores her most basic requests and does what he wants.

If Break-Up played these segments more firmly as a spoof of relationships, it might work. However, since it can’t decide if it’s a drama or a comedy, it doesn’t succeed. Vaughn uses his usual motor-mouth routine, but it falls flat. This made him a likable charmer in other flicks, but here he simply seems disingenuous and slimy. He’s not funny, enjoyable or endearing.

Aniston can’t do much more than seem sad. I can’t blame her since she plays such a pathetic character. Brooke needs a serious shot of self-esteem, and Aniston fails to generate much personality beyond that.

The Break-Up never lives up to its potential. Too shallow to provide a rich look at relationships but too serious to be amusing, the end product is a lackluster dud.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

The Break-Up appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not grossly problematic, the transfer seemed lackluster for a brand-new movie.

Some of the problems related to sharpness. Moderate edge enhancement appeared, and that occasionally left the image without great definition. Much of the movie was fine, but I thought things tended to be somewhat soft at times. No problems with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and print flaws seemed absent. The movie seemed a bit grainy at times, though.

Contrast seemed a bit off, as parts of the movie looked overly bright. This meant things could be somewhat pale, though blacks were usually fairly deep and shadows showed decent definition. The colors lacked much heft as the movie featured something of a blown-out feel. Some brighter colors popped up in exterior shots, however, and the hues were fine within the schemes used. Overall, the transfer was muddier and less concise than I’d like.

Given the domestic comedy roots of The Break-Up, I expected little from its Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Indeed, this was a fairly restricted soundfield that fell in line with films of this genre. The audio stayed largely focused on the front channels. A few elements like street scenes and clubs opened up the surrounds a bit, but there wasn’t a lot of information on display. Music showed good stereo imaging, at least, and the general ambience was fine.

Audio quality was acceptable. Music showed reasonably solid definition and vivacity. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, and effects were clean and clear. This was an unexceptional mix that earned a “B-“.

Quite a few extras fill out the DVD. We find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Peyton Reed in the form of a running, screen-specific piece. Reed covers sets and the main condo, locations and shooting in Chicago, score and songs, characters and themes, cast, performances and improvisation, cinematography, visual design, and cut scenes.

Across the board, Reed offers an excellent discussion. He digs into a variety of informative subjects and delivers tons of good details about the production. Reed rarely lets up for breath in this consistently entertaining and useful piece.

For the second commentary, we hear from actors Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. Both sit together for their own running, screen-specific chat. Their status as tabloid darlings makes this track more potentially provocative than most actor commentaries, but the actual content comes as a massive disappointment.

No, I didn’t expect Vince and Jen to chat about their personal relationship, but I anticipated something more interesting than this disaster. They talk a little about characters and performances, and they throw out a couple of remarks about old dating experiences. Unfortunately, they usually just explain the movie to us via a form of glorified narration. This makes the chat consistently dull and an almost complete waste of time.

Lots of cut footage appears next. We get an Alternate Ending (5:08), six Deleted Scenes (8:13) and three Extended Scenes (1:58). The unused conclusion would have ended the flick in a radically more comedic way. The final meeting between Brooke and Gary uses the same dialogue but takes a quirky twist. We then get a long – and pointless – performance by the Tone Rangers. I could do without the latter, but the Brooke/Gary parts might have been interesting.

As for the other clips, Gary dominates the “Deleted Scenes”. We see how Brooke’s family reacts to the break-up in the first one, but the other five concentrate on his activities. Some entertaining material appears, though it’s all superfluous enough that it deserved to be cut. For the “Extended Scenes”, we see a longer pre-break-up dinner scene, Brooke’s bowling after Gary gets booted, and more of his taunting her first date. Again, all amuse but don’t add much.

We can watch the “Alternate Ending” with or without two separate commentaries. One comes from Reed and the other offers Vaughn. The actor gives us some insights into how this ending would have come across in the final cut, while Reed covers similar territory though he tosses out a few other notes. Both shed light on the subject as we find out why they didn’t use this clip.

The disc also features 11 minutes and 32 seconds of Outtakes plus 21 minutes and nine seconds of Improv with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. The “Outtakes” offer little comedic bits that didn’t make the final cut. We get more of Gary’s shtick on the bus and the boat as well as some of his rants. We find other character moments from Christopher and Richard, and we see more of Brooke at the waxer. These offer more amusement though they’re extraneous.

“Improv” presents exactly what it implies: many minutes of the actors as they riff off of each other. The old friends mesh well together and offer plenty of entertaining footage, even if all of it couldn’t make the final movie. We can watch this segment with or without commentary from Favreau and Vaughn. They chat about their methods, shooting these takes, and other background information. Their notes complement the clips well.

For a look at the movie’s singing group, we head to the six-minute and 25-second In Perfect Harmony: The Tone Rangers. This featurette includes movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and comments from Reed, Vaughn, Aniston, executive producer/actor Peter Billingsley, and actor John Michael Higgins. They discuss why the movie incorporated an a cappella group, casting Higgins and his musical talents, and creating the various singing segments. I think the Tone Rangers are a joke that never really pays off, but this featurette gives us a fun look at their use in the flick.

The Making of The Break-Up runs 15 minutes, 17 seconds as it presents notes from Reed, Vaughn, Aniston, Favreau, Billingsley, Higgins, writers/co-producers Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender, producer Scott Stuber, and actors Joey Lauren Adams, Justin Long, Cole Hauser, Jason Bateman, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Ann-Margret. It discusses the origins of the flick and its development, how Reed came onto the project and casting, shooting specific scenes, cinematography, and a few other production notes. Despite a generally fluffy tone, a few nice elements materialize here. This isn’t a terribly informative piece, but it throws out enough useful bits to merit a look.

An interactive guide called Three Brothers: A Tour of Chicago fleshes out the DVD. A 30-second intro from Vaughn sets up the piece, and we then get to inspect six of the movie’s locations. (Oddly, the screen lists O’Hare Airport but won’t let us access it.) All together, the segments fill a total of 11 minutes, two seconds. These include notes from Hauser, the Old 97’s, Lavender, Garelick, Vaughn, Favreau, Reed, and production designer Andrew Law. We learn some basics about the two spots and their use in the film. I’m not wild about the slightly awkward interface, but the clips are interesting and informative.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We find promos for You, Me and Dupree, Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip, The Office and American Dreamz. No trailer for The Break-Up appears here.

While The Break-Up had potential to be entertaining and provocative, it suffers from too many soap opera elements to succeed. Neither good comedy nor insightful drama, it occupies a dull netherworld and never satisfies. The DVD presents lackluster picture and audio as well as a mix of sporadically interesting extras highlighted by an excellent director’s commentary; too bad a terrible actors’ track mars the proceedings. Not that I’d recommend this dud anyway, as The Break-Up doesn’t merit your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.1428 Stars Number of Votes: 14
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