"I kind of liked The Break-Up, but it's because I'm a chick," a female friend recently informed me.

I don't see how that could possibly help.

A film whose plot is right there in the title, The Break-Up is one of the most pointless films I've seen in a long time. Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) live together in a swell little Chicago condo, and after two years, Brooke decides she's done putting up with Gary's bullshit. They break up. Both of them kind of want to get back together, but fuck it up. The end.

I'll say this for it: I expected something much worse. The awful, awful trailers made it seem like a "When Vince Met Jen..." twee rom-com. It's nothing like that. Instead, it's a cute little dramedy. I usually don't like the term "dramedy" very much, but I'll let it slide here, because I also didn't like The Break-Up very much.

The problem with the film, as everyone else has pointed out (the danger of reviewing a film two weeks after it opened,) is that we never have any investment in the central relationship surviving. The film opens with their "meet cute" at a Cubs game (Lies #1: Vince orders ketchup on a hot-dog; lie #2: his friend Johnny (Jon Favreau) is wearing a Sox jersey at a Sox-Cubs game, surrounded by Cubs fans, and he is not beaten to death), in which Vince is a total jackass. Allegedly, he is meant to be silly and charming, I think, but he comes off as a pushy asshole. Then, there's a montage of still photos of the couple being happy together under the credits, then the film proper begins, effectively, with their break-up.

There is not one moment in the film when I wanted them together. There is not one moment when I could imagine what possibly kept them together for two years. Nothing in the film makes it seem like they'd have ever made it to a second date.

Frankly, I wanted them to break up, and I was annoyed it took so long for them to fucking do it.

I was reminded of two incalculably better films, Woody Allen's Annie Hall and Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage. The first of those, of course, treats the life of a relationship from meeting to break-up to what happens after. Many people have tried to justify spending $9.50 on The Break-Up by pointing to its "honesty" in depicting the feelings and fights and blah blah. There is infinitely more honesty in Alvy Singer's admission at the end that seeing Annie take a date to The Sorrow and the Pity was a "personal victory" than anything in here. As for the Bergman film, it depicts the death throes of what was once a happy marriage, but it starts off showing us what they have to lose. The current film shows us nothing worth ever having, unless it's the condo. Watching Scenes from a Marriage is scarring and personal because Johan and Marianne represent everything good about love as well as everything bad, and that makes their fall tragic, even torturous to watch. There is nothing good about Vince and Jen's love. They are horrible together. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

The pity is that so much of the rest of the film works. The supporting cast is uniformly terrific - Jason Bateman takes on scene and nails it to the floor, Vincent D'Onofrio does what he does (i.e., is fucking fantastic in little ways that are still striking me as I write this, 20 hours later), Judy Davis is the perfect embodiment of Woman's Experience. Vaughn and Favreau are wonderful in every scene they share. Frankly, Aniston is great in the scenes where she's not forced to convince me that she weally wuvs Vince.

And for the first time ever in my knowlege, a film set in Chicago is actually aware of what makes the city wonderful (it's native son Vaughn's baby, and it was clearly written by someone who loves it here). Sure, there are obligatory "postcard shots" of the skyline, and Vince's job as a bus tour guide seems specifically designed to show off the landmarks, and Jen just happens to jog in Grant Park, and nobody calls the Riviera, "the Riv," and certainly nobody buys beer there..where was I going? Right, the film still captures the neighborhoods of the city, something I've never, ever seen before. It's not a film that feels the need to prove how pretty Chicago is, and that is why it succeeds in doing so.

I just don't know what else there is to say. The story only works if we care about Vince & Jen, and I sure as hell didn't. The ending makes it seem like they're going to get back together sometime down the road, maybe; heaven keep us from somebody actually making The Break-Up 2: The Reunion, because that would be a torture even Bergman couldn't conceive of.