The Break Up is an unconventional romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn as a couple going through an ugly “War of the Roses”-style break-up.
When Gary (Vaughn) asks Brooke (Aniston) to “take a bite on my sausage” during a chance meeting at a baseball game the pair instantly hit it off and a whirlwind romance ensues.
But cracks begin to show when they move in together and Brooke sees Gary’s slobbish habits – he spends most of his spare time playing “Grand Theft Auto” and boozing with his best mate (Favreau) – at first hand.
Eventually, after an ugly argument about doing the washing up, the pair decide to split, but neither is prepared to move out of their luxurious Chicago flat.
In an effort to drive Brooke out of the apartment Gary moves a pool table into the lounge and invites prostitutes round for games of strip poker. Brooke, on the other hand, plays Alanis Morissette records at high volume all night - a far worse punishment we’re sure you’ll agree.
Vaughn is at his best when improvising his way through the playful opening sequences (and during the all too few scenes with his old mate Favreau who plays a bar owner with an anger management problem) but struggles when things get more serious late on.
Aniston fares better with the material, however, and proves what a competent dramatic actress she can be when she picks the right roles. But together, apart from some well-written domestic dust-ups, the pair have minimal on-screen chemistry (despite actually dating during filming) and, ironically, generate none of the heat that Aniston’s former husband Brad Pitt did with Angelina Jolie during last year’s “Mr and Mrs Smith”.
This earlier movie, and the similarly-themed “The War of the Roses”, worked because we believed the couple really cared for each other and we wanted them to end up together. Here, however, you get the feeling that they would both be better off on their own.
Anyone hoping for some inside gossip on Vaughn and Aniston’s own romantic saga will be disappointed by the lively, but uninformative, audio commentary which sticks strictly to their on-screen relationship.
Similarly inadequate are the deleted scenes and outtakes, which add nothing to the original cut, other than to prove that Vaughn is still one of the finest improvisers in the business.
The only other special feature included is an abysmal alternative ending - set after the sale of the unhappy couple’s apartment - which is ruined by another overtly camp appearance from John Michael Higgins (Brooke’s brother in the film).
“The Break-Up” makes an admirable attempt to twist the rigid rom-com template, but the mixture of Brat Pack humour and serious drama proves to be an uncomfortable blend that may have you, like the unhappy couple, wanting to split before the end.
Staring: Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn, Joey Lauren Adams, Cole Hauser, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Judy Davis, Justin Long, John Michael Higgins
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Extras: Audio Commentary By Vince Vaughn & Jennifer Aniston, Deleted & Extended Scenes, Alternative Ending, Outtakes