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Film / The Break-Up

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The Break-Up is a 2006 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Peyton Reed, starring Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston.

Chicago tour guide Gary Grobowski (Vaughn) and art gallery manager Brooke Meyers (Aniston) meet and begin dating, eventually buying a condominium together. However, as the title implies, they break up. Since neither is willing to move out of their condo, they compromise by living as roommates; but each begins acting out to provoke the other in increasingly elaborate ways.

This film contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: The film ends with the couple of the titular break-up meeting up on the street months after their break-up and exchanging pleasantries. It's left ambiguous if they will just go their separate ways or make another try at their relationship. An alternate deleted scene shows them meeting up with their new boy/girlfriend, who happen to look very similar to their exes, showing that they're not completely over one another.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: Gary at one point finds his now ex-girlfriend Brooke asleep in their condo's living room. He watches her for a moment, smiles, and then makes his exit instead of waking her up.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Gary and Brooke officially break up and sell their apartment, but the ending implies that even if they don't reconcile or end up as friends, they have gotten past the hostility and can be genuinely civil.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Gary's brother at one point takes him to a super cool club, making him feel intimidated and out of his element.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Gary is playing a boxing video game. Brooke walks over, goes to the fridge, gets a drink and walks back to her room all while naked. What's more, Brooke has recently gotten a bikini wax (or, in simple terms, had her vagina waxed). Gary gets knocked out in the video game.
  • Escape Call: Brooke and her friend arrange for the friend to call during Brooke's date that night, at which point Brooke can either ignore the call or pretend it's an emergency and leave. Her date turns out to be boring, so when the call comes, Brooke pretends there's an emergency on the other end and suddenly abandons her date.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Subverted. The film opens with a Meet Cute, followed by a falling-in-love montage set to "You're My Best Friend," followed immediately by...well, read the title of the film again.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Averted. Neither character wants to move out, each—rightfully—feeling that they are entitled to the place, as they've both contributed financially. But despite both of them making a good living, it's made clear that neither can afford the apartment on their own, prompting their friend/realtor to suggest they sell it and split the proceeds.
  • Game Night Fight: An ugly dragout fight erupts from a game of Pictionary, convincing everyone that Gary and Brooke are not going to work it out.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Unlike many romantic comedies that would play out a Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario, this couple stays apart—by the time Gary finally realizes what Brooke was trying to tell him and indicates that he's ready and willing to be the man she wants, she tearfully admits that she's too emotionally drained and doesn't love him anymore. It also points out that Brooke should have just outright said how she felt and what she wanted from Gary instead of engaging in veiled implications, mind games and secret tests as are typical in the genre since, as Gary points out, while her points might have merit, he's not a mind reader.
  • Genre Shift: The film starts as a typical romantic comedy about a couple in the last parts of their relationship. About halfway through you realize it turned into an uncomfortably sad and bitter look at the central couple's role in the break-up, and the divisive effects it has on the couple's friends and acquaintances.
  • Henpecked Husband:
    • Implied with Andrew, who votes to kick Gary off the bowling team because his wife pressures him to.
    • In the same scene we see another of Brooke's male friend who only votes in Brooke's favour after his girlfriend/wife softly pushes him.
  • Hollywood Board Games: The final sign that Brooke and Gary's marriage is broken beyond repair is that they can't even play Pictionary together anymore. Soon enough, the affair becomes a Game Night Fight.
  • Informed Flaw: Brooke's boss tells her "You look like shit". This is conveyed... by her wearing her hair in a ponytail.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Though a Camp Gay, Richard delivers a quick curb stomp when Gary lays a hand on him. Later, the ego-hurt Gary complains that he was sucker-punched before he knew he was in a fight, and promises to bring some "Polacks who don't have a future" to back him up next time.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Attempted by both parties and failed miserably. The first guy Brooke brings home is a loser, while the second hits it off with Gary, but he's still so ticked off that he retaliates by hiring a bunch of exotic dancers for a party. Each is left so hurt and disgusted that it makes things worse.
  • Poor Communication Kills: After weeks/months of hostility, Brooke invites Gary to a concert. He fails to realize that this is a last-ditch attempt to save their relationship and stands her up, putting the final nail in the coffin. He later asks her why she didn't just tell him that she wanted to give it one last try.
    Brooke: I just don't know how we got here. Our entire relationship, I have gone above and beyond for you, for us. I've cooked, I've picked your shit up off the floor, I've laid your clothes out for you like you're a four-year-old. I support you, I supported your work. If we ever had dinner or anything I did the plans, I take care of everything. And I just don't feel like you appreciate ANY of it. I don't feel you appreciate me. All I want is to know... is for you to show me that you care.
    Gary: Why didn't you just say that to me?
    Brooke: I tried. I've tried.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Johnny, who's been firmly on Gary's side through the break-up, finally gets fed up with him after Gary stands up Brooke one last time, and (not unkindly, but firmly) lets Gary know what a selfish and thoughtless person he is, to Brooke, to Johnny, to everyone he knows.
    Johnny: We always do what you wanna do, and she always did what you wanna do. It's who you are. Everybody thinks that you're their friend, okay? But the fact of the matter is that there's not one person that I know that you trust enough to let close enough that they could hurt you. And her big problem is you... you really liked her. I mean, she is the ONE girl you really liked. And no matter what she did or how hard she tried, you were never going to let your guard down. That poor girl never stood a chance.
  • Symbolic Distance: To the surprise of no one, the two main characters in this film break-up. One scene of them in the duration of this pictures them on opposite sides of the couch in their apartment, trying their best to ignore each other. It even acts as the page image for the trope!