Bawdy, Brawny Vaughn Works His Usual Game In Played-Out Rom-Com

Everyone knows the story behind “The Break-Up” — the film began generating buzz last summer when the two leads, Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, started a highly publicized affair. The hyped-up flick looked promising, sporting A-list stars, hilarious previews and a delectable supporting cast. But the final product is a run-of-the-mill rom-com that offers few laughs and even fewer surprises.

Courtesy of Universal
Breakfast and Bed: Vince Vaughn plays a city tour guide who quarrels with his girlfriend (Jennifer Aniston) in the romantic comedy “The Break-Up.” The film was shot on location in Vaughn’s hometown of Chicago.

In “The Break-Up,” Aniston plays Brooke, an art dealer who is romanced by Gary (Vaughn), a Chicago tour guide. The two buy a condo together and live a glamorous life in their polished abode until their relationship fizzles. Both refuse to give up their precious piece of real estate and as a result, the estranged couple continues to live under one roof. Comedy ensues when she starts going out with other guys and he throws all-night poker parties.

It’s a sitcom-worthy premise that is a little fun in the beginning, but the film loses steam toward the end when it focuses on Brooke and Gary’s romantic woes. The conflict between the feuding lovers is as unrealistic as it is childish: The couple essentially breaks up because one night, Gary didn’t pick up enough lemons at the store and he doesn’t like to help out with dishes. Even though Vaughn and Aniston are two charismatic actors, their characters are too immature to elicit any real sympathy.

The film does manage a few scenes of pure comic gold and, not surprisingly, Vaughn is responsible for every one. Fresh from the success of “Wedding Crashers,” Vaughn once again flexes his comedic prowess with plenty of quick-witted banter. Aniston and Vaughn bicker throughout and no one spews insults better than Vaughn — like in the scene when Brooke exclaims that her sister has been through a lot, Gary quips, “… of dick.”

Although Vaughn steals about every scene he’s in (even from Aniston), the film also features a fine assortment of comedic actors in supporting roles: The cast includes John Favreau, Jason Bateman, Judy Davis, Vincent D’Nofrio and Joey Lauren Adams. Not all the performances are gems (D’Nofrio, who plays Gary’s brother, has his usual awkward on-screen presence), but Favreau, who plays Gary’s best friend, is hilarious. Favreau and Vaughn first appeared together in the cult classic “Swingers,” and their witty repartee in this movie makes for some of the most entertaining dialogue.

“The Break-Up” was helmed by a master of the breezy romp, Peyton Reed (“Bring it On,” “Down With Love”), but Vaughn (who served as co-writer and producer) spearheaded the project. The film is a disappointment in comparison to “Wedding Crashers” — a sex comedy that relished in its own irreverant, bawdy humor. However, “The Break-Up” poses to be a mature comedy about the travails of an unraveling relationship. Where’s the fun in that?