Friday, June 02, 2006
Movies I Have No Intention Of Seeing, #34

The Break-Up

starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn

directed by Peyton Reed (Down With Love, Bring It On)

You probably don't know it, but we all just avoided national tragedy last night. I'm not talking about Iran developing a nuclear bomb and missiles capable of delivering them to the eastern seaboard. Seriously, big deal. I live in California.

What I'm talking about is last night a 13 year old girl from New Jersey won the National Spelling Bee. Why is that so harrowing? It isn't. What should concern us all is that the second place finisher? Canadian.

That's right, from Canada. Foreigners have now infiltrated--and nearly won!--the last innocent American competition. The pride of America's youth were almost rent asunder as a whole by an upstart from some other country.

As it turns out, in Canada they don't teach you to spell words like "weltschmerz", the word the runner-up missed, opening the door for our Katharine Close of Spring Lake, NJ. You know what else they apparently can't spell in Canada? "National."

It's not the International Spelling Bee, it's the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Held in Washington, DC. The capital of our nation.

I know "national" is kind of generic and could apply to many countries, but come on: is Canada even really a nation? Don't they have the Queen of England on their money? Not only is she a foreigner to them, she's a foreigner who doesn't even hold any kind of political power in her OWN country. How are we supposed to take these people seriously? And they think they can just waltz in here and humiliate OUR school system network of private and home-schools? I don't think so, Gordie Canuck. Our kids might not be able to find Canada on a map, but that doesn't mean we can't kick your asses and send you back to... wherever it is Canada might be.

You have been chastened. And now you have been warned as well.

But this Katharine Close, she can run right out with her prize money and go see The Break-Up without any parental oversight as she is 13 and the film is rated PG-13.

You know, the marketing campaign has really focused on how this film is a "dark comedy" about the "painful realities" of the demise of a relationship between two grown people. And it's PG-13? We're not even breaking up but the fights I have with my wife are quite often R-rated for strong language, scenes of intense action and partial nudity. I can't argue with pants on. I just can't.

The reviews are not that strong. The print-ads are relying on one really long quote from Maxim as their support-blurb. One long quote, which says to me "couldn't really find enough to fill this space." And it's from Maxim, which only likes movies where chicks get hit in the face with things. Usually a penis.

And yet this is PG-13. I am perplexed.

I want to like this movie. I like Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. But it reeks of your Gigli, your Shanghai Surprise, your Cleopatra. OK, maybe not so many triremes as Cleopatra, but Liz Taylor was totally boning Richard Burton and any time your leading lady is boning your leading man in a way loud enough that the tabloids notice, you've got trouble.

When will studios and agents learn to insert the no-boning-of-costars clause in contracts? For all of our sakes, really. I want my hype tied to overpromising the entertainment experience of a hopelessly mediocre movie, not all this distraction about who regularly sticks what into whom. Unless you're releasing a grainy video of the act on the internet, I don't want to know about it.

Man, I hope this is the movie where finally--finally!--we will get to see Vince Vaughn take off on this long, extended verbal free-association riff that lasts several minutes and is delivered at a pace too fast for the auditory receptors of the human brain to process. Please let this be the one! America is clamoring!

Ha ha, I kid. Vince only plays one guy in all the movies he's ever been in, much as Tom Cruise does, but the difference is that Vince Vaughn knows he's doing it and is trying to be funny. And often is. So he gets a pass.

I was also disturbed when I learned that this film includes a scene that involves a campy homo character singing a campy homo song around the dinner table for assembled guests a la Rupert Everett in My Best Friend's Wedding. But then I saw the campy homo character is being played by John Michael Higgins and The Break-Up gets another pass. Yes, even for that heinous transgression. You think you don't know who John Michael Higgins is, but you're wrong. You do and he's very funny.

The reviews are poor, but I like the cast and I like the fact that the people promoting this movie are using the phrase "anti-romantic comedy." If nothing else, you have to applaud that effort.

With that I give you a surprising:

Two (out of 3) on the Hot Babysitter Scale.




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