The Break-Up is nothing remarkable storytelling wise. It’s a pretty general Hollywood rom-com, except boy and girl are falling out of love rather than falling in it. And the comedy is pretty threadbare too, really just nothing more than scenarios with the central theme of men are from Mars, women are from Venus. The situations aren’t inherently funny but they will remind you of your own troubled romances, and in turn, will probably make you laugh at them.
That said, there is an undeniable charm to The Break-Up owed to the palpable chemistry between Vince Vaughan and Jennifer Aniston. They actually feel like a real life couple, we could totally see Aniston and Vaughan falling for each other and their subsequent fights seem all the more legitimate. Even the guys that pursue Aniston throughout the film seem like a slightly higher quality of Vaughan’s character: a bit smarter, a bit more fashionable, a bit more career centric and still tall, but not such a wide gap in height. Aniston’s previous rom-com follies, like Just Go With It and Along Came Polly, proved that just because you have two funny actors on screen (Aniston with Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller, respectively), that doesn’t necessarily translate to laughs. The Break-Up though, is the rare exception.
Another thing The Break-Up portrays very well is the friendships torn lovers rely upon when romantic relationships turn sour. Vaughan confides in, who else, Jon Favreau, his bartending buddy who always has a broad shoulder for him to lean on, but isn’t afraid to call him out on his friend’s bullshit later on. Aniston’s main confidante is played by Joey Lauren Adams, who has her own family to take care of but still finds time in-between her kids bubble-baths and during family lunches to still take the brunt of Aniston’s complaints.
The film does falter though in the scenes depicted at Aniston’s place of employment, a high-end art gallery in Chicago where she works for a high-maintenance art mogul alongside a stereotypically gay receptionist, played by Justin Long. Both of these roles amount to nothing more than caricature and are honestly cringe-worthy. Vaughan’s interactions with his co-workers, who happen to be his two brothers, have a bit more heart to them, but really lack the blood to get them pumping.
Still, the heart of the movie is Vaughan and Aniston’s relationship, and anytime they’re on screen together it’s a joy. You may not laugh, but you will still have fun.