2006-06-16 / Columnists


'The Break-Up' - Friends End
By Robert Snyder

Actress Jennifer Aniston has come full circle from the sitcom success of "Friends."

While that show rejoiced in the impenetrable compatibility of roommates sharing an apartment, her new film, "The Break-Up," has her character, Brooke, at odds with roommate and lover Gary (Vince Vaughn) from the get-go. In fact, they are fighting from the first moment when he forces a hot dog on her at a Chicago Cubs-Wrigley Field game.

And it's downhill after that. Somehow they wind up sharing a condo, where they go on to prove that opposites don't attract. He loves baseball. She loves ballet. He's a slob. She's a neat freak. Not only does she want him to do the dishes. She wants him to want to do the dishes. It all leads to a mini-"War of the Roses" with the stubborn couple each refusing to relinquish the condo. They live together in unrequited love, trying to drive themselves back into the arms of the other through attempts to evoke jealousy. She brings in dates; he plays strip poker with hookers.

Yet, there are some laughs, largely supplied by the supporting cast and Vaughn's speed-rap improvisation, perfected in "The Wedding Crashers." The best laugh-getting scene has Brooke's closet-gay brother (John Michael Higgins) organize a family dinner into a song fest which, by the way, includes a wasted cameo by Ann-Margaret as Brooke's still-sexy mother.

 Directed by Peyton Reed, "The Break-Up" seems seriously underwritten, the blame going to scripters Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender. Those looking for an ending with some sort of resolution won't find one: "The Break-Up" simply breaks down.

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