"Breakin' All the Rules" stars Jamie Foxx as Quincy, a writer for a men's magazine. Despite once being a leading magazine, "Spoils" has seen better days. His boss calls him in and gives him a list of people to fire - rather than going through with it, he quits himself, sighting depression after his girlfriend (Bianca Lawson) has left him.
Sitting at home, he begins to write letters that eventually start to form a book - "Breakup Handbook", a guide for men to see the signs of being dumped and dump before they get dumped. When his cousin Evan (Morris Chestnut) uses the author to break himself up with his girlfriend, Nicky (Gabrielle Union), sparks start to fly between Quincy and Nicky. Quincy is even enlisted by his publisher boss Phillip (Peter MacNicol, even more squirrely than usual) to break up with his girlfriend, Rita (Jennifer Esposito). Meanwhile, Rita enlists Evan (who she thinks in Quincy) to help her relationship with Phillip. When Evan finds that Nicky is seeing someone else, his feelings for her return and he seeks to get her back.
All of this is fairly ordinary stuff: instead of "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days", "How to Lose a Girl in 10 Days". The film's mistaken identities and changing relationships are handled maybe a little better than I'd expected from the material, but the end results are still pretty predictable. The performances also help liven the material a bit, as Foxx (who, after "Collateral", "Any Given Sunday" and the buzz-heavy upcoming "Ray", should probably consider never doing this kind of material again) and Union are very good together.
Overall, this is good-natured stuff that, thankfully, stays away from too much foul language and bathroom humor (although the first scene has a dog peeing on the floor - the dog later gets drunk.) It's just that the film takes the familiar routes, even through the "twists and turns". The film passes the time well enough, but the performers deserve better.
VIDEO: The film is presented by Columbia/Tristar in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame. The anamorphic widescreen presentation offered respectable image quality, but a few issues took away from the image. Sharpness and detail were largely fine, but the overall definition could take a dip at times, such as in some dimly-lit sequences.
Some other concerns present themselves, as well: a bit of mild edge enhancement is visible in some sequences, while some traces of pixelation show up at times, as well. The print appears to be in fine condition, with only a little bit of dirt showing once or twice. Colors looked rich and well-rendered, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The film's soundtrack is a "comedy" mix for the most part, with the majority of the audio coming from the front. Surrounds do kick in with some reinforcement of the music here-and-there, but the surrounds otherwise go unused. Audio quality is fine, with clean-sounding dialogue and fairly dynamic, bassy music.
EXTRAS: The DVD offers a commentary from actress Gabrielle Union, Director Daniel Taplitz and the producer, a "making of" featurette, a "mock interview" with the Foxx character, bloopers and a colorized "Three Stooges" short.
Final Thoughts: While the fact that the film isn't lowbrow is refreshing, the characters aren't developed enough and the plot is a tad predictable. Performances are fine though and the film has some moments. Overall, a decent rental. Columbia/Tristar's DVD edition provides fine audio/video and a few solid supplements.