Plot: What’s it about?
I’m not one to pay attention to the tabloids, but it’s kind of hard not to. I think we’re finally past “Jen and Ben” and now the world is fixated on Vince and Jennifer, Jessica and Nick and TomKat for the time being (let us not forget Brad and Angelina). Honestly, I really could care less who the celebrities in Hollywood are dating. But, like I said, it’s kind of hard to ignore. “The Break Up” was the movie in which Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston “met” and regardless if they’re still romantically involved, this movie was in the center of it. Vaughn was also in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” starring, coincidentally enough, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Several different pieces of a big, complicated puzzle we have. But “The Break Up” is more than just the cast, it’s actually a fairly complex movie that’s, dare I say, realistic. Director Peyton Reed is probably better-known for his efforts like “Bring it On” or “Down with Love”, but I think he’s found a niche here and judging by “The Break Up’s” box office, it was one of the few summer movies that actually delivered financially.
All of that aside, we meet the characters very early on and through the opening credits see the premise of the movie through a series of snapshots. Gary (Vince Vaughn) is part of a trio of brothers in Chicago who run a tour company. Their goal is to ultimately “take Chicago by land, sea and air” and he and his brothers, Lupus (Cole Hauser) and Dennis (Vincent D’Onofrio) are well on their way to doing it. Contrast that with Brooke (Jennifer Aniston), who works at an art gallery for an eccentric recluse (Judy Davis). She’s all business even if she does turn away customers and brings her problems to work with her. That all takes a backseat, though, to what’s really going on in the film. We see that Gary and Brooke were happy, but now that the “Honeymoon” stage of the relationship has passed, Brooke wants something more. She’s sick of having Gary come home, open up a beer and play video games. Gary naturally sees nothing wrong with this and in the midst of an argument the two break up. Surprising? Not really, though Brooke’s motive for the break-up was to see if Gary would try to get her back. A fight ensues over who owns the condo and the two resort to childish pranks to get the other to cave in. Will it work or are the two destined to be with one another?
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t want to give away what happens in the movie but I will say that the way it’s executed is very realistic. Sometimes people get back together and sometimes it’s not meant to be. As a veteran of a few relationships myself, I’ve been fortunate in that they were not nasty and not a lot of hard feelings were involved. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for everyone. Something that “The Break Up” has in spades is a great cast and Vaughn and Aniston aren’t the only ones with some meaty roles. Obviously, it’s great to see him reteam with “Swingers” buddy Jon Faverau. Also rounding out the cast are Joey Lauren Adams (where’s she been?), Jason Bateman, Ann-Margaret and the aforementioned Cole Hauser and Vincent D’Onofrio. Like “American Pie”, this movie is one of those rare summer gems that actually delivered on its promise to entertain. And it’s something that most everyone who’s ever been involved with someone can relate to.
Video: How’s it look?
Having seen this movie when it originally arrived on HD DVD (circa 2006), I was curious as to how it’d look on Blu-ray. At the time I gave it high marks for the HD DVD presentation, but an ample amount of time has passed since then (and I’ve upgraded my television – twice). Watching The Break Up again, it still looks good and as I mentioned in the HD DVD portion of my original review, the city of Chicago has never looked so good – green river and all. However I guess I’ve become spoiled by the new to Blu-ray films and this one seems a bit flat by comparison. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the way this looks, it just doesn’t seem to have that pop that the newer films have. Flesh tones look average, detail is impressive though a bit fuzzy at times (nothing too bad, though) and I noticed no problems with contrast or the black levels. It looks good, as catalog films do, but this does appear to be slightly dated.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The days of Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes and Dolby Digital Plus are gone when it comes to Blu-ray and those previous mixes have been replaced by a new DTS HD Master Audio mix. As is the case with most romantic comedies, there isn’t a whole lot going on in all the channels. The front stage bears the burden of most all the mix, surrounds come into play a few times and I don’t think the LFE played a part in this film (if they did, I was oblivious). There’s a little more kick to this than the previous HD DVD mix, but it’s hardly noticeable. This gets the job done, plain and simple.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I have no idea why Universal is releasing this movie on Blu-ray (its debut on the format) despite there being an HD DVD of the film when it came out. At any rate, the supplements included appear to be the same as those found on the HD DVD with all of the supplements being presented in standard definition.
- Auido Commentaries – Two in all, the first features Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston and, while a bit chatty, there’s a lot of dead space in there as well. More informative is the track by director Peyton Reed who gives us the motivation for the film, the casting of Aniston and Vaughn (along with others) and the general theme of the movie.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – As is the case with most deleted scenes, it’s clear to see why some of these were cut and we’re treated to some improv by the cast.
- Alternate Ending – Not that much different from the theatrical ending, though we do get a song that’s ever so familiar. I’ll keep that a secret and let you be surprised.
- Outtakes – Pretty must as you’d expect – goofing on the set.
- Improv with Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau – This is actually pretty interesting as we’re treated to a split screen between Vaughn and Favereau as they go through their routine.
- In Perfect Harmony: The Tone Rangers – John Michael Higgins (of Best in Show and A Mighty Wind fame among others) is featured here along with the special sound created for the film.
- Making Of The Break-Up – This your standard “Making Of…” featurette with some highlights front the film, interviews with the cast and crew and a bit about the general theme of the movie.
- Three Brothers: A Tour of Chicago – As the title suggests, we get a crash course tour of Chicago as they point out some landmarks and their favorite parts of the city used in the film. I suppose you could also watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Fugitive and get the same effect.
- Theatrical Trailer