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.