It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"The Break-Up" hints that the broken-up couple will get back together again, but that doesn't make us eager for a sequel. The movie stars Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston as Gary and Brooke, a steady couple who have many reasons to break up but none to get together, except that they fall in love. Since the scenes where they're together are so much less convincing than the ones where they fall apart, watching the movie is like being on a double-date from hell.
Gary is obsessed with the Chicago Cubs and video games, and thinks if they moved the dining table into the living room, that would make space for a pool table. He and his brothers run a Chicago tour bus company, and he is the tour guide. Brooke works in a high-powered Chicago art gallery. They break up because she says he never listens to her, or appreciates all the work she does around the house, or how she cooks his meals and picks up his laundry. All true, but these are not merely faults, they are his essential nature, and he will never, ever, be interested in her world. Not when he thinks Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the "16th Chapel."
True, their arguments are funny, at least while they're still getting along. They have a fight right at the beginning that had me nodding my head and recognizing my own shortcomings. At the 30-minute mark, I thought the movie had a chance, but it grew dreary and sad, especially when they both receive spectacularly bad advice from their best friends (Joey Lauren Adams and Jon Favreau).
There's a stretch when Gary's sleeping on the sofa surrounded by dirty underwear and she's trying to make him jealous by being picked up at home by a series of handsome studs. Would any woman really do this? The way to make a guy jealous is by seeming to really like someone else, not acting like first prize on Match.com.