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The Break-Up (2006)

Quality notwithstanding, the marketing campaign for The Break-Up - which cast the film as something of a follow-up to lead Vince Vaughn’s comedic mega-hit Wedding Crashers - is one of the more heinous recent moves on the part of the entertainment industry. Still, the Scenes from a Marriage reminiscent poster, culling the same imagery of a couple upright in bed, is quite appropriate in projecting the film’s general tonalities. A generally dark examination of the end of a relationship which, were it not for a mixture of embarrassingly slapdash comedic elements possibly edited in after test audiences demanded more humor, might have been able to hold a minute candle to Bergman’s masterpiece, The Break-Up suffers from an inappropriate adherence to Hollywood convention even when the script screams for otherwise. Vaughn and Aniston are Gary and Brooke, whose long-term union suddenly reaches a breaking point: his obsession with videogames and her workaholic attitude finding no similar grounds on which to unify. The film finds effective expressions of separation and internal conflict by means of the architectural placement within their condo unit, but the dialogue (which makes up most of the films’ backbone) generally fails to probe amply beneath the surface, dealing more in generalities than exploring the intimate details of these characters. There’s more to love than hate here, but even its high-aimed but low-fueled intentions are thrown horribly askew by the reliance on overtly homosexual and needlessly weird supporting characters for inconsistent laughs, seemingly meant to break the otherwise overriding tension.