Monday, June 05, 2006

Can a woman be that obtuse? Can a man be that blind?

Spoilers within...

The Breakup tried to be an everyman. That’s where it lost me. War of the Roses worked because the disdain for each side was apparent. The absurdity of their actions seemed justified by their complete and utter hatred for each other.

In The Breakup, the hatred isn’t there. We meet the characters towards the last leg of their relationship. Anyone who has been there realizes the end of a serious relationship is not a joking matter. Complex emotions are in play. The five stages are in motion.

Anyone going into The Breakup looking for a romantic comedy is going to be disappointed. Anyone going into The Breakup for a dramedy is going to be disappointed. The Breakup just couldn’t make up its mind on what it wanted to be. The director should have dropped the filler, John Michael Higgins, Judy Davis, Justin Long, and spent that time establishing the relationship between Gary and Brooke.

What made Brooke fall for Gary? What made them decide to move in together? We jumped straight from the first meeting to a quickie montage of their relationship that showed us nothing, except their a fun loving couple that spent most of their time attending social events, most of which lean towards Gary’s happy-go-lucky lifestyle.

When the bickering begins, you don’t feel for either side. Yes, the dialogue is chocked with common relationship anecdotes, a few of which persuaded me to plop down my $10 to see this film. However, you really don’t feel for either side. After the stories are told, you still feel like observers to a relationship near its end stage.

Sadly, as an audience member, you are more participatory than Gary and Brooke’s best friends. Gary and Brooke need to find better friends. Gary, if your friend, Johnny O gave you his second to last speech the first ten minutes of the movie, you wouldn’t be in your predicament. Brooke, if your friend, Maddie, smacked some sense into you, the wouldn’t go the lengths you did to try to save a relationship that ended a long time ago.

The movie didn’t strike it like it should and could have. The best part of the movie was the ending. You finally felt for both characters but a good movie shouldn’t make you wait 2 hours to make you empathize with the characters.

Don’t get me wrong, as a woman, I will freely admit that I’ve done some desperate things to cling on to someone. Even past the point I knew realistically I should give up, I pushed it further fruitlessly partly because of fear and partly because I didn’t want something I invested so much time on and so much of my heart in wasn’t done in vain. Watching Brooke go through this was slightly painful. What was more painful was to see so many people surrounding Brooke give her horrific advice. From the loving words of my friend Myrna, “Clearly that girl needs some friends.”

As for Greg, I’m not a guy so feel free to pitch in your thoughts. I’ve been told I can be as callous as a man. I guess that gives me credibility when I say I don’t know any man who is as oblivious as Greg is. Oblivious may be an inaccurate description. Apathetic is more appropriate.

Between my guy friends, my family and my relationship, I’ve known many men get your mind out of the gutter and although some may be aloof I can’t think of any as unaffected and unmoved as Greg. Maybe what makes Greg’s situation even sadder is that he’s past the age when it’s acceptable for a man.

Greg’s younger brother was completely unnecessary and it seems the only person in Greg and Brooke’s life that had the balls to tell it like it is was Jason Bateman, playing of all characters, their realtor. By the way, maybe my experiences with realtors have left me a bit jaded but that scene provided the most chuckles for me.

I read somewhere that the ending was re-shot to satisfy test audiences. I’m not sure what the original ending was but I liked the ending. Without giving it away it seemed a bit more realistic. The hopefulness, the personal growth and excitement of the future are the driving forces to a relationship cycle.

No one wants to play out the end of their past relationships again. No one wants to relive the pain, the anger, the desperation, the emptiness. Maybe that’s why I have so much to say about this movie and I suppose that’s what the writer wants in the first place. I just wish they’d stop comparing it to War of the Roses and advertising it as a comedy when it really isn’t.

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