The Break Up (HD DVD)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

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 does it look?

This HD DVD version of “The Break Up” also comes with the standard DVD included, which makes one wonder why they make several different versions of the same movie (a full frame standard DVD version is also available). They could simply lower the cost of the HD DVD and then everyone would be happy and it would also save Universal tons of money in marketing and production costs. Anyway, the 1.85:1 HD transfer leaves little to the imagination as it’s flawless in nearly every aspect (pardon the pun). Colors are bright and the city of Chicago never looked so good, green river and all. Flesh tones are warm and natural and that pesky edge enhancement that plagues the standard DVD isn’t even a factor here. Quite simply, this is a new to DVD release and there’s hardly anything wrong I could find with this HD transfer. By comparison, the standard DVD is noticeably weaker, but even that looks pretty darn good. Either route you go, you’re in for a treat.

Audio: How does it sound?

The standard DVD comes equipped with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track and the HD version sports a Dolby Digital Plus track. Both sound very good though obviously the Dolby Digital Plus has the slight advantage as it’s less compressed. The entire stage is very open and robust and while there aren’t a whole lot of instances for the soundtrack to take charge, there are a few scenes in which all the speakers come to life. Dialogue is free of distortion, just as we’d expect and though the surrounds don’t proliferate – they do their job. Again, either way you go you’ll be happy.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The HD DVD version has the same extras as the standard DVD (for obvious reasons) and we don’t get any exclusive HD content, like an In Movie Experience. That’s ok though as the supplements included go a long way. We start out with a pair of commentary tracks, the first with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. The two are pretty chatty throughout though Vaughn really takes charge and Aniston usually adds a lot of “yeahs” and “um hmmms”. It’s a good track and a step above the second track which only features director Peyton Reed. There’s an improv session for a scene with Vince Vaughn and Jon Faveru in which we see them do the same scene about four times, different every time. And we get a fairly corny, yet slightly informative tour of Chicago and some of the landmarks of the city that were featured in the movie. There’s also an alternate ending to the movie with optional commentary as well as about a dozen minutes of outtakes and deleted scenes. “The Break Up” delivers on all levels as it’s something that most everyone can relate to and this HD version gives us about everything we were expecting from the new format, except exclusive HD content!

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