Being the producer as well as the star of The Break-Up, Vince Vaughn seems torn between a predilection for roguish comedy and an aspiration to Gen X relationship drama. It's an awkward balancing act for both him and co-star Jennifer Aniston, despite their easy rapport as a couple who decide to go their separate ways while living under the same roof. Director Peyton Reed fails to patch it together convincingly and by the last half-hour the cracks are gaping wide.
It begins promisingly enough with Vaughn (as the self-centred Gary) letting rip with his motor-mouthed ladies' man routine. A bemused Brooke falls for it and then it's a quick trip through cohabital bliss before a spat over dirty dishes has them at loggerheads. Gary refuses to move out of their condo and Brooke stays on too, hoping she can get Gary to see the error of his ways with sneaky mind games.
The first sign of trouble is the appearance of Brooke's flamboyant brother (John Michael Higgins). He bursts into song at the drop of a hat, which is funny for a moment, but mostly it just feels out of synch.
"ATTEMPTS AT GENUINE EMOTION FALL FLAT"
This sets a pattern whereby laughs aren't drawn from the situation, but are instead concocted separately and thrown randomly among scenes from a daytime soap opera. As the writers near the point of resolution they run out of space for comic crutches, and their attempts at eliciting genuine emotion fall flat. Like the story of many broken down relationships: despite the initial attraction, you're left feeling cheated.