Starring the latest celebrity couple to be wholly and completely overexposed by the tabloid media, "The Break Up" opens with a scene that will amuse anyone from the South side of Chicago. Gary (Vince Vaughn) sits next to Johnny (Vaughn's BFF Jon Favreau) at Wrigley Field in Chicago. As the Cubs make it obvious on the field that they're not going to the Series in October, Johnny proudly stands up and displays his Sox jersey to those sitting behind them.
As Gary takes in the loss, he spots Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) sitting down the row. He verbally forces (as Vaughn is capable of) a hot dog down to her. She doesn't want one. He talks her into it. Despite the fact that she's there with someone, he literally gets in her way as she's trying to leave the game and verbally steamrolls her, telling her that, in fact, the guy that she's with isn't the right guy for her. Does he succeed? The montage of photos of the Aniston and Vaughn characters under the credits show that, yep, he did.
As we learn about the two, we find that they couldn't be more different. He's a tour company guide (and Vaughn's scenes on the bus are priceless; he'd make an ace guide if he ever gives up the whole acting thing), while she works at an elite art gallery. She cooks (Chicagoans will notice that Vaughn brings in a Treasure Island bag early on), cleans and notes how he doesn't listen to her or thank her. She hates his video games (one of the funniest scenes in the movie has Vaughn's character yelling at a little kid via an XBOX Live headset), as well. The movie is certainly one-sided, making Gary almost entirely to blame (although she's wrong for not liking video games - who doesn't like video games?) for the problems in the relationship.
After an argument early in the picture, Brooke finds that she's simply had enough. However, Gary isn't willing to give up their prime apartment and neither is Brooke. As a result, up go the dividing lines, with Gary getting the pool table he wanted and Brooke taking the bedroom. Of course, the best friends - Addie (Joey Lauren Adams, Vaughn's real-life ex) and Johnny (Favreau) are there to provide mildly questionable advice. With neither one budging, the two try to come up with other methods to resolve the situation.
The performances are fine enough, with Vaughn providing his signature rapid-fire delivery and Aniston mildly trying to match his yelling during the arguments. He's pretty decent in the role, but she lacks personality. It's interesting how Aniston seems to have become considerably more closed-off since films like "Office Space" and "Picture Perfect". A series of solid supporting actors like Judy Davis and Jason Bateman are put to use in minimal supporting parts and then disappear.
One of the film's main issues is that it compresses the "good times" of the Vaughn and Aniston characters into a montage of photos. We really never see these two during the good times, and they seem to have no chemistry during the bad times. The movie seems to want us to want to see them get back together, when it really doesn't give us any reason to believe that these two would be happy back together.
Overall, Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender's script manages a few laughs and a few dramatic moments, but the picture suffers from the previous issue, as well as the fact that the PG-13 rating means that it can't be as biting as it wants to be and, as a result, the movie seems like it kinda wants to be a little bit "War of the Roses", but settles for bittersweet drama. If they'd have gone all "War of the Roses" - and maybe I'm wrong on this - but I'd like to have seen Vaughn up against Sara Silverman instead.
Overall, "Break Up", despite its flaws, remained mildly watchable. However, a few changes in structure and a few more laughs would have gone a long way towards making this a better film.
VIDEO: "The Break-Up" is presented by Universal Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is generally quite nice, with a consistently fine level of sharpness and detail. Although some slight edge enhancement makes an appearance in a few scenes, it's pretty minimal. No pixelation or print flaws are spotted, and the film's bright, warm color palette generally looked rich and well-saturated.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, as one might expect, offers limited surround use (only for some minor ambience and reinforcement of music.) Audio quality remained fine, with a rich, crisp score and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: Director Peyton Reed offers an audio commentary for the film, as do actors Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. While people are likely going to be excited by the idea of a Vaughn/Aniston commentary, well...don't get your hopes up. The commentary generally has Vaughn literally narrating what's happening in the scene, and Aniston agreeing. Some patches of the track start chatting more about the production in general, but it's otherwise narration or silence. Additionally, for a pair of actors (one of whom produced this film), these two really couldn't be more monotone here.
Much better is the commentary from Reed; while I thought the film had some issues, Reed provides a very informative and insightful discussion of shooting the picture and what he was attempting with scenes. He also chats about shooting on location in Chicago, casting, working with the actors, production issues and more. While Reed does narrate the film on occasion, it's pretty rare and at least he tries to tie it into some insight on filming. Reed keeps the discussion going throughout and, as with his commentaries for his other two films, he offers a great deal of engaging facts and information on the making of the picture.
A lengthy set of outtakes doesn't offer flubs, but instead offers alternate takes of existing scenes. Plenty of amusing Vaughn improvs, some of which are funnier than what made it into the picture (in my humble opinion.) A set of six deleted scenes and three extended scenes are offered, as well as an alternate ending. As for the alternate ending, it's a little weird and too long, but I think it's at least more interesting than the rather ordinary ending in the final film.
A set of additional improvs for a scene with Favreau and Vaughn comes complete with commentary from the two. A "making of" runs for 15 minutes and details how the film came together, as well as how filming went. It's definitely a little better than these promotional featurettes usually are. Rounding out the extras section are: the "In Perfect Harmony: Tone Rangers" featurette and an interactive tour of Chicago. No trailer.
Final Thoughts: "The Break-Up" remains moderately watchable, but I couldn't help but think that some changes and a little more edge could have potentially really helped the film. The DVD offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of supplemental features. Rent it.