The Break-Up Peyton Reed

Nobody expects miracles from a Jennifer Aniston rom-com, and you won’t find them in The Break-Up, but you will find a movie that’s plenty better than it has any right to be.

Aniston and Vince Vaughn play the star-crossed lovers engaging in the titular falling-out: he’s a sports-loving tour guide with a Peter Pan complex, she’s an art-loving gallery worker who "needs to be listened to” and together they make terrible music. Unfortunately, they’re both fond of their spacious condo, which means either a) Vaughn has to drive his girl out, or b) Aniston has to change him before the place gets sold.

None of what follows will be unfamiliar to devotees of Oprah or Dr. Phil, but the movie handles its familiar tropes with a certain amount of comfortable Rob Reiner-ness. Aside from a couple of egregious stereotypes, including Justin Long as a frivolously flamboyant gay receptionist and a criminally wasted Judy Davis as the shrewish middle-aged gallery owner, the film is not big on taking unnecessary flights of fancy and keeps to the straight and narrow of the downward spiral.

True, one can’t really see these two getting together in the first place, so things can seem a bit forced, and Vaughn’s escalation of hostilities degenerates into some truly reprehensible behaviour that strains sympathy just a touch. Still, I was surprised at how much I wanted to see how it all played out, and despite its flaws it takes things to their logical conclusion without sugar-coating the outcome.

It’s no more than a decent renter, but there are worse fates for a film and for the audience who has to bear witness. (Universal)