1 Star - Demeaning
The lack of moral wisdom in Peyton Reed's "The Break Up" is pathetic. Disregarding centuries of experiences which have taught us the importance of the commitment of marriage, the necessity of honesty and the joy of faithful purity, Reed instead sets two beautiful people adrift in a torrent of unnecessary pain. The result is a film that is not only unpleasant to watch but also has little to offer its viewers.
What makes the viewing all the more painful is that Brooke Meyers (Jennifer Aniston) and Gary Grobowski (Vince Vaughn) are truly likeable people. They certainly have all the makings of a couple who could find happiness and joy together. But instead they seem to have missed out on any of the moral instruction and healthy relationship skills that could make this happen. There is no commitment of marriage; instead they buy a condominium without understanding the emotional consequences that can follow. There is no relationship counseling; instead, when the inevitable difficulties begin, rather than seeking out a trained counselor or pastor to assist them, only their realtor friend advises them as a couple to sell their condo and get on with their lives for his own financial gain. When they play games with each other in an attempt to get the other to change, their schemes consistently make things worse. When they achieve a crescendo of pain and anger, they have nowhere to turn nor is there anyone to speak truth into their lives.
The problems in their relationship are classic and to not know how to deal with them is the attempt at humor on which this film rests. But it is not a romantic comedy as much as it is an embarrassing immaturity. The male self-centeredness is not a recent discovery, nor is the female surrender of her own needs to try and win the male's affection and appreciation. Woven together into a symbiotic codependency which increases both the self-centered behavior by Gary and the pathetic surrender of Brooke, both Gary and Brooke are reinforcing the very behaviors they find unbearable.
Unfortunately, this is becoming a more common scenario as more couples choose to live together rather than marry. When a commitment of marriage is not made, there is tenuousness to the daily communication which causes the couple to often avoid difficult conversations. This lack of honesty without the protection of commitment then gathers a backlog of emotions including feelings of not being appreciated or understood, of not being respected or loved. Though their love-making can attempt to offset the increasing separation, there comes a moment when even sexual desire cannot bridge the gap. It is then that many find themselves saying goodbye to people they love, not even sure how they found themselves in that unwanted place.
Hopefully, most viewers will not see themselves in the lives of Gary and Brooke. Though difficult problems can develop out of daily irritants, it isn't funny when they do so. Instead, personal maturity and commitment to work through these conflicts to resolution is necessary. If those are not built into the foundation of our relationships, then the confusing and disappointing "Break Up" will not only be inevitable, but repeated in future relationships and generations as well.
- When Gary first sees Brooke and manipulates her by separating her from her date at the ballgame, what did you think? Did you see that as a kind of "all is fair in love and war" type of behavior, or as a dishonoring of her and her date? Why?
- The advice that Gary gets from his bartending friend and Brooke gets from her dysfunctional boss only creates deeper misunderstandings. Have you ever been advised by friends to manipulate or scheme in a relationship? Did you do it? What happened?
- The male's propensity for self-centered behavior and the woman's need for male attention has been described biblically as sin. How does a man become willing to "lay down his life" for his wife, and how does a woman find her identity in God and not in men?
- The importance of marriage is increasingly being dismissed by many who make films. Why do you believe this is true?