RECENTLY RATED MOVIES #18

Fuzzy everything.

Fuzzy editing. Fuzzy screenwriting. Even fuzzy acting. And this fuzziness is embodied in the scene where Jennifer Aniston parades past Vince Vaughan to shock him with the fact that a certain recently waxed area of her pelvic region is no longer in the fuzzy category, and as she walks away from the camera, its lens fuzzes out more the longer we are allowed a glimpse of her posterior. She, of the infamous Rolling Stone butt cover, a full decade later, mind you, has to resort to coyly exposing her flesh, only to tease the audience in the so-called "romantic comedy" called The Break-Up. The irony of the fuzz shot is that the scene is about a bare cooter. On the Vaughn end of things, he sells the scene with just a shocked look and a bemused smirk on her exit, but I feel it would have been more devastating if the audience could have shared in his pain more by seeing clearly what is walking slowly out of his life. Because her posterior beauty is one of the few things that his character is clearly going to miss.

That's right. A fuzzy relationship, too. We see them meet cute at the ballpark, though he is obnoxious and pushy from the start, and then the credits roll along with a stacked deck of photographs showing their purported close and strong relationship, but by the time the movie proper comes about, there is no evidence of it whatsoever. Speaking as a guy, Vaughn's character is an ass, and everything that I despise about "guyhood" in the 'Aughts. She may be a little too arty and correct for him (she even works at a gallery), and certainly he takes affront to what he perceives as her mildly controlling attitude, when all he wants to do is come home, play violent video games, watch the ballgame, and put his shoes on the couch. Except for the ballgame, all strikes against him in my book (and speaking of my own relationship, which I consider to be successful after six years together, you find other ways to see the big game if it coincides with something important. It's called TiVo, it's called VCR. Girlfriend first, trivia later...)

The first problem is that these two should never have gotten past that first date. They have nothing together, and since we don't get to see their chemistry as a couple except in some quick flashes of photographs, their later arguments ring false and register as nothing more than harsh empty tirades on the part of both sexes. The second problem is that the deck is stacked against Vaughn, because there are a million reasons why she should dump him, and the worst he can come up with is the fact that she doesn't want to put a pool table in the dining room. His character is worse than an ass: he is a big baby, and the ending that the studio tacked on is so phony I wanted to throw the projectionist through the screen, and the thing wasn't even his fault.

Another thing that is the fault of the filmmakers (including producer Vaughn) is the sense that many performances seem to have been hacked up by the editors (why hire Ann-Margaret as Aniston's mother if she is only going to be in about five minutes of the picture?) in trying to fit the film into a likeable category for filmgoers, but "romantic comedy" is not it. There should be romance in a "romantic comedy", and it's not here, folks. The movie is shrill and single tone; it wastes a lot of acting talent in inconsequential scenes that we care little about (do we ever care that his stupid boat-tour business is a success?); and it wastes John Michael Higgins in a badly written a capella-singing dinner scene which is supposed to be gratingly endearing but just comes off flat.

The problem is that eight zillion people have gone to the film already (yours truly duly noted as attending, of course), and it has given the studio the balls to announce the film in commercials as "The biggest opening romantic comedy of all time!" Weighed against what? The Deer Hunter? And just because people went, it doesn't mean they walked out satisfied. Oh sure, most people will just breathe in deeply upon leaving the theatre and say, "Well, that was okay." (I imagine most of these people with accents straight out of Fargo, to capture that casual across-the-board Middle American acceptance of crappy things we are told to like.) The reason that I am giving this a lower rating than the Jessica Alba-starrer Into the Blue, which is as bland as Britney Spears though with double her IQ (which puts it in the low 70's), is that given the talent involved in The Break-Up, it should have been so much better. It could have been so much better. I would bet that a good director's cut would come up a far more satisfying film, especially one that goes with the blows and delivers the knock-out punch that all of the character's caterwauling should have led them up to giving. Perhaps even giving us the original ending. Was it depressing? I don't know... but I would be far happier with a film that sticks to its convictions, and at least gives us the knowledge that these two incompatible people will move on to newer and better horizons. So, the film as it stands gets a subpar rating because of the utter disappointment it offered up to this viewer.

Now, that I think about it, the ending is actually like one of those horror movie finales where the characters realize they are trapped in a nightmare from which they can never awaken. The pseudo-happy ending is actually a depressing ending, because the cycle of spit and bile will get another shot at homewrecking once these two settle into a new relationship with each other.

All of a sudden, I feel so much better. That fuzzy ass has become so much clearer...

The List:
Into the Blue (2005) (DVD) - 5; Hauru No Ugoku Shiro [Howl's Moving Castle] (2004) (DVD) - 8; The Ice Harvest (2005) (DVD) - 7; It Happens Every Spring (1949) (AMC) - 7; Dr. No (1962) (AMC) - 7; The Break-Up (2006) - 4; Le Samourai (1967) (DVD) - 8; Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes [Aguirre: The Wrath of God] (1972) (DVD) -8; Stardust Memories (1980) (TCM) - 6.

Comments

chewy said…
But here's the important part:

How were the 97s?

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