Making the Grades
There's nothing subtle about Gary Grobowski's (Vince Vaughn) approach when he makes a pass at Brooke Meyers (Jennifer Aniston) during a Chicago Cubs baseball game. It's a kind of clutch and grab come-on that ought to make any girl turn and run. Instead, the opening credits are a montage of happy snapshots showing the two of them during a 2-year relationship that followed their initial meeting.
The pictures give no hints of brewing trouble. But there is trouble and it all comes to a head following a dinner for the couple's respective families who are as oddly matched as the brash city tour guide and the svelte high-end art dealer.
For the record, the catalyst behind their big break-up isn't really about forgotten lemons, dirty dishes or an obsession with violent video games. It's about the lack of consideration and appreciation that too commonly creeps into comfortable relationships. And on that point the movie has something to say.
Unfortunately, it doesn't say it very well. Instead of addressing the kinds of cooperation and negotiation needed for success in long-term relationships, the film focuses on the escalating exchange of nasty jabs between Gary and Brooke as they try to one-up the bad behavior of the other. The results are loud verbal outbursts, wild strip poker parties, flaunted nudity and a string of dates used as unsuspecting pawns. As well as turning to his bartender friend (Jon Favreau) for advice and a drink, Gary, along with Brooke, drag their mutual pals into the fray forcing them to pick sides in the ongoing battle.
Billed as a romantic comedy, the script relies on sexually charged comments, body waxing, ethnic jokes and suggestions of homosexuality for humor. As well, the movie contains depictions of back and buttock nudity, profanities and strong sexual terms. After spending nearly two hours with this unhappy couple obsessed with looking for hurtful ways to bring each other to his or her knees, it's hard to understand why they want to stay together. Likewise, a lack of on-screen chemistry between the performers -- and the fact it's hard to laugh at something as painful as this break-up -- makes it hard to understand why the audience will want to stay and watch.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Break-up.
Brooke sees herself as the glue that holds their relationship together. Is it easier to see your own contributions to a relationship than the other party’s? What are Gary’s needs in the partnership? What things does Brooke want? How willing are they to compromise for one another? How often should one person give into the wishes of the other?
How much abuse can a relationship take before it is irreparable? How does Gary and Brooke’s one-upmanship hurt their chances of getting back together? What part does forgiveness play in rebuilding bonds?
Gary and Brooke force their shared friends to pick sides in their battle. Can mutual friends avoid this problem and continue to support both partners in a break up? How can the loss of friends, as well as a partner, affect a person?