The Break-Up

Movies
ON THE COUCH Vaughn and Aniston choose pouting over couples' therapy.
ON THE COUCH Vaughn and Aniston choose pouting over couples’ therapy.

Time Out says

“Didn’t that movie come out last year?” a colleague asked me after I told her I was reviewing The Break-Up. You’d be forgiven for thinking so: Ever since Brad Pitt unceremoniously dumped her for Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston’s life has played like a continuous reel from a Sirk melodrama, with Jen a Jane Wyman for the In Touch Weekly era. As Brangelina globe-trotted on U.N. missions, stoic Aniston, the rags reported, found the love of a good man last summer in good-time Vince Vaughn, her carbed-out costar, on the set of The Break-Up.

The backstory is crucial to appreciating Peyton Reed’s romantic comedy, which, although occasionally relying on big-studio banalities (swish supporting characters, redundant soundtrack), is surprisingly adult—a tale of two grown-ups whose love has been eclipsed by long-simmering resentment. Cohabiting in a sprawling Chicago condo, pinched art-dealer Brooke (Aniston) and goofy bus-tour guide Gary (Vaughn) call it quits after a volatile Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus--type exchange following a dinner party. Neither wants to relinquish the prime real estate; each wants to torture the other.

Even with a spotty record (Bring It On is mean-girls manna; Down with Love a Doris Day disaster), Reed is still a solid woman’s director, and he impressively elicits ferocity from Aniston, never known for onscreen paroxysms. Could these welcome rage-spirals be sense memories from couples-counseling sessions with Brad? Vaughn, ever the frat-boy gentleman, never outshines his leading lady. The film’s final act and coda may astonish you. Meanwhile, the Jennicam still rolls. (Opens Fri; click here for venues.)—Melissa Anderson

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