Saturday, June 24, 2006

THE BREAK-UP

Shocked. I was shocked when I left the theater tonight. For a number of reasons. First, I was shocked at just how good the movie was. Not just funny; I could tell from the trailers it’d be hilarious. But I was shocked at how serious it was. How completely different it was from what you’d be led to expect. It’s entertaining, but honest in its entertainment. Then I was shocked that I almost didn’t see it. I got caught up in the anti-hype and the 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, and almost let it slip by (normally, if I don’t see a movie within its first two weeks of release, it’s unlikely I’ll catch back up). Then I was shocked at the 31%, that critics haven’t responded better to the kind of movie they should have been clamoring for – one that’s more ANNIE HALL than TWO WEEKS NOTICE

There’s a lot going on here. First, this is a huge leap forward for Vince Vaughn. To my knowing, he hasn’t had a role like this since his breakout in the fantastic SWINGERS back in 1996. He’s been through a huge, much deserved resurgence since 2003’s OLD SCHOOL doing everything from the yearly Wilson Bros./Ben Stiller/Will Ferrell comedy to an indie hit (THUMBSUCKER) to an action movie (MR. & MRS. SMITH), and has come out now with easily his best work to date. He’s a funny, engaging actor who ends up more relatable than I thought he’d be at the beginning of the flick. Really, just fantastic work.

But it is a relationship movie, and like a relationship, it takes two. I’ve never been a Jennifer Aniston fan. I think she’s a talented enough actress, and funny on occasions. I’m not a big fan of FRIENDS, but I liked her well enough in OFFICE SPACE I suppose. But here, she’s funny in a way Vaughn isn’t – whereas much of Vaughn’s comedy comes from the situations he creates, hers is in the reactions. We laugh because we can empathize, as is true for so much of the movie.

And that’s the key right there. It’s relatable. We’ve all been there at one time or another. Not fighting over a condo per se, but dumped. Rejected. Made to feel as if we’re not understood or loved or appreciated by the only person whose understanding, love, and appreciation you need. And the movie touches that exact nerve while making us laugh throughout. If you’re at all a fan of relationship comedies or dramas, I cannot recommend this highly enough because it’s the best of its kind out there right now.

As a final, geeky note, I gotta give a huge mention to the supporting cast, because when I saw the trailer and saw that they squeezed in all of these people who I love to watch but don’t get nearly enough work, that alone made me need to see it. Every one of them comes out just as fantastic as anyone at all familiar with them would expect – Jon Favreau (SWINGERS), Joey Lauren Adams (the chick in CHASING AMY), Jason Bateman (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT’s Michael Bluth), Justin Long (DODGEBALL), Vincent D’Onofrio (the alien in MEN IN BLACK and the dad in THUMBSUCKER), and believe it or not, Peter Billingsley (Ralphie from A CHRISTMAS STORY). They’re all underused, but only because they’re all enormously talented. Go see any of the stuff listed above, it’s all fantastic.

P.S. Someone should post something...besides Doug declaring that he's better than me, I've made now the last three posts...and that scares me.

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