The Break-Up

What I hate about Jennifer Aniston is that she’s a moderately talented sitcom star whom celebrity magazines treat like the next Julia Roberts. If they gave such a break to, say, Maura Tierney, I wouldn’t complain. Tierney got her sitcom break on the underappreciated NewsRadio at around the same time Aniston landed Friends. They were originally known for doing comedy; both have tried to branch out. They even look a bit alike. But the similarity ends there, because Tierney is a phenomenal actress (she’s carried me through three or four otherwise unwatchable seasons of ER now), whereas Aniston is…a moderately talented sitcom star. I haven’t seen The Good Girl, to be fair; people say it’s her best performance, so maybe I’m missing something. But I did see Derailed—for two dollars, fortunately—and based on Aniston’s performance there, I can say that as a dramatic actress, she’s…a moderately talented sitcom star. She’s Rachel, always will be, and should take the path to Roberts-level success that involves never leaving her creative comfort zone and flashing a huge grin in public.

All of this is to say that I went into The Break-Up (again for $2) for the sole reason of wanting to see whether Aniston sucked in it. She doesn’t, but then, Brooke is Rachel with a bigger bank account. I got totally sidetracked trying to answer that question, though, because I was too busy trying to figure out what this movie is. A romantic comedy? It’s not funny—doesn’t really even try—and it’s not romantic. (I can’t say more without spoiling it.) A buddy comedy? But Vince Vaughn’s Gary doesn’t spend that much time with Jon Favreau on screen. A chick flick? But Brooke doesn’t spend that much time with Joey Lauren Adams. A serious study of modern romance? Then why on earth would they cast Aniston in it?

I get the feeling The Break-Up was actually supposed to be that last thing, a sensitive character piece about two people who stay connected once they disconnect, but the script got hijacked by a publicist with an agenda. It reminds me of Forces of Nature or The Banger Sisters—movies that had a shot at being interesting before they got refashioned into star vehicles. The Break-Up doesn’t work as a star vehicle. It’s too uncategorizable. It’s not a feel-good comedy, it doesn’t have a lot of action, and it doesn’t give underrated performers a chance to show off their range. It wants you to walk out of the theater thinking—not thinking, “Jennifer Aniston® is my new favorite actress,” but thinking, full stop. If a couple of talented but lower-wattage actors—say, Laura Fraser and Kevin McKidd, who, I’ll tell you in the spirit of giving two reviews in one, tried their valiant damnedest but were unable to salvage the hideous crapfest that was 16 Years of Alcohol—had taken the roles, this might have been a movie worth seeing. As it is, it’s an ineffective vehicle for repurposing Jennifer Aniston.

Plus her brother and his vocal group? Are fucking annoying.

5 Responses to The Break-Up

  1. Kris says:

    Don’t worry about missing “The Good Girl” — it IS probably Jennifer Anniston’s best movie, maybe even her best performance. But it’s her best perfomance picked from a string of duds. “The Good Girl” is good because of Jake Gyllenhaal and John C. Reilly’s performances and a cool script . . .

  2. Pulao says:

    I haven’t seen *The Break-Up*, so I don’t know if this is true, but this lady that was reviewing it on The Current implied that the worst mistake that anyone could make was to think that this was a good date movie, because you leave the theatre examining your relationship more than revelling in it. Of course, that sounds like bad news.

    Reminded me something I learned recently– first, that apparently the whole concept of date movie is apparently well-founded. It shouldn’t be surprising, but apparently, movies do have a significant level on your hormones: http://www.umich.edu/~urecord/0304/July19_04/23.shtml

    Also, and this is more a tangent off the previous study than Matt’s review of “The Break-Up,” but apparently heterosexual men who are hungry are attracted to, I kid you not, heavier women. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5157964.stm
    I mean, I know that George Kastanza had an entire theory on the connections between food and sex, but surely, this is a little absurd?

    But, back to the movie, do you think how much you pay for a movie can determine what you ultimately think about it?

  3. Matt says:

    I paid $2 for: “Derailed” and hated it; “Dukes of Hazzard” and nearly walked out of it; “Pride and Prejudice” and loved it; “Stealth” and thought it was okay; “Poseidon” and thought it was terrible; “Batman Begins” and was bored; “Lucky Number Slevin” and fell asleep; “X3” and thought it was okay; etc. etc. I was going to compare these movies to a list of those I paid full price for…but I don’t pay full price all that often. I paid, what, $8 for “Monster House” and that was pretty good. Still, results: inconclusive. How about you?

  4. Kris says:

    My discount-theater movie experiences in Minneapolis (that I can remember) were (for $2): American Wedding, not too good; Curse of the Were-Rabbit, super-awesome; XXX (Vin Diesel movie, not porn), better than $8 version; Akeelah and the Bee, excellent.

  5. Pulao says:

    Well, I\’m not saying that the quality of a movie is good or bad depending on how much you pay for it. At least, I don\’t think I\’m saying just that, or that exactly.

    I\’ve just noticed that I\’m a little more forgiving of films that I watch for cheap, not that I think they\’re actually good. For instance, I remember having a ball watching Godzilla with my friend Jon Womack years and years ago at the movie theatre. I mean, it\’s still one of the worst movies I\’ve ever seen, but it was fun. (Does this make me sound cheap?) Sort of like playing poker for many, many hours on a two dollar buy-in, versus losing ten dollars very quickly on an online game.

    Not that duodecad would know what I\’m talking about– what with his 1200 dollar wins: http://12apostrophes.net/2006/08/10/electoral-contradictions-hold-%e2%80%98em-and-the-f5-key/

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