Breaking up is hard to do

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“The Break-Up”

Universal Pictures

Directed by Peyton Reed

Written by Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Jon Favreau and Joey Lauren Adams

Rated PG-13/107 minutes

Opened June 2, 2006

Three out of four stars

Aaron Allen

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston aren’t the only incompatible bicker-bodies in Peyton Reed’s “The Break-Up.” Comedy and drama are equally frustrated with reconciling their differences in a movie that feels like a mismatched double feature.

The first half is a very funny and very painful comedy of bad manners. Vaughn plays Gary, a die-hard Cubs fan who works a tour bus by day and a Playstation controller by night. His terminal boyishness irks his live-in girlfriend, Brooke (Aniston), who wants him to want to do the dishes instead of dragging his feet to the sink.

Gary is out of tune with Brooke’s needs, but she certainly isn’t any help-she drops hints when what a man really needs is a mallet to the head.

Ladies, we are not mind readers. Never have been, never will be.

Gary and Brooke fight; and when I say fight, I mean nasty, verbal lacerations meant to bleed the other dry. The script by Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender (with lots of input by Vaughn) is wicked-smart-it gets the rhythm of argument down pat, with all its highs, lows, cheap shots and those flashing moments of regret that are swept aside for a really vicious stab.

Whether or not Vaughn and Aniston have romantic chemistry is questionable, but, man, the sparks fly while they’re spitting barbs. We smile at their wit, laugh out loud at some of their zingers and cringe throughout.

Brooke invites over a hot guy to enflame Gary’s jealousy. Gary counters by skanking-up the condo with some tipsy lap dancers. Ah, touch.

As you may have gathered, these are not the actions of reasonable human beings who want to work things out. These are mean, hurtful, movie-contrived actions.

Which brings us to the second and more dramatic half of the movie. Brooke still has feelings for Gary, and vice versa, but their communication skills leave a lot to be desired. The mood gets pretty serious, which wouldn’t be such a problem if the first half of the movie weren’t so funny. The tonal shift doesn’t quite work-some laughs would’ve helped leaven the heavy drama.

All of this leads to an ending that seems inevitable, but “The Break-Up” wimps out. The last five minutes just don’t fit. The whole movie is made up of mismatched parts that should just move on and find more compatible mates.

I give the movie a three-star average: three-and-half for the comedy and two-and-half for the drama.

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