The Break Up (Combo Format)
HD DVD Title: The Break Up
Screen format: 1080p 1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 on DVD side)
First theatrical release: June 2, 2006
Previously released on DVD/BluRay: Day and Date with standard def DVD
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Aniston, Joey Lauren Adams, Ann-Margret, Judy Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Favreau, Cole Hauser, John Michael Higgins, Justin Long
Sound Formats: English, Spanish, French Dolby Digital 5.1 / English DD 5.1 and Spanish/French DD 2.0 on DVD side
Length: 1 Hour 47 Minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
The end of a relationship is never easy, and it can be particularly nasty when both parties feel that it is their partner who is the most to blame for it. In The Break Up, we witness the end of the road for the marriage of Gary (Vaughn) and Brooke (Aniston), a pair of native Chicagoans who seem to know exactly what they want in life except how to communicate it to their partners and family. While this setup could have provided an interesting spring board for humor, the characters just never seem that interesting or their problems any more difficult than the mundane ones any of us face in our daily lives. The major laughs in the film come not at the antics of the two main characters but at the expense of the side characters in the film: the psychotic best friends (Adams and Favreau), the dopey but over motivated brother (D’Onofrio), the oversexed boss and brother (Davis and Hauser) and those with apparent alternate lifestyles (Long and Higgins). Fitting squarely in the genre many would deem ‘Chick Flick’, The Break Up would be tolerable if the characters could grow or change their ways, but the message of the film (especially its alternate ending, included in the bonuses) appears to be that we are destined to not learn from our mistakes, even when we do seem to make a start of it, but we will muddle through in the end.
Sound Quality: 3/5
As a character study with some humor, the film can hardly be criticized for having a mediocre soundstage. However, it does feature 2 scenes worth noting for their good qualities. In the opening scene where Gary meets Brooke at a baseball stadium, there is great use of the surround track to make the viewer feel surrounded by the crowd. Later in the movie Brooke is left stranded in a theater watching the band The Old 97s, the acoustics of a small venue are reproduced very well, better than some surround sound music disks I have heard. Other than that, it is a dialogue driven movie and there are some environmental effects used sparingly, but not notably so. Bass presence is barely felt throughout. The dialogue and music throughout are clean and clear at least.
Visual Quality: 3.5/5
The visuals of The Break Up are about average for a High Def transfer but nothing really special. There is no notable grain or edge enhancement, which is good. Sharpness varies throughout, some scenes are dead on sharp especially in the outdoor long shots, but others have just a hint of softness, especially on faces. The color was a little baffling to me in this film, and I suspect it was the original print rather than the transfer, but the warmth of skin tones was overly deep on a lot of the characters, and was inconsistent on the same characters throughout the film. This was especially strange given that the film takes place in Chicago, not southern California. Chicago itself has rarely looked better, and it is clear that the crew took pains to make Chicago as much a character in this film as any of the actors.
Extra Features: 3.5/5
The HD side of this disk features the U-Control structure which I very much do not like because it forces you to watch the film a second time in its entirety if you want to see all of them. They are presented picture in picture with the main film, and while I did not view many of them I found them rather generic. The DVD side fares much better, with an alternate ending (tho I didn’t like the ending to this film, the alternate ending is much worse content wise but actually very interesting) a series of improvisational takes on the bar scene where Favreau’s character offers to bump off Brooke, 2 full length commentaries, one by Vaughn and Aniston, another by director Reed, and a nice little introduction to Chicago by Vaughn.
Overall: 3.5/5 (not an average)
While it doesn’t pack in the visual and sonic overload that the format is capable of, both are satisfying and adequate. The bonuses included are all fun, and would be of interest specifically to fans of the principles but are held back on the HD side by the omission of a menu to get to them all from in addition to the U-Control for those of us who don’t care for that technology.
Overall, although I wanted to physically slap the two protagonists in this film out of their self obsessed distractions, there were some minor funny moments and it was not as torturous to sit through as other ‘Chick Flicks' I have seen have been. While this isnt the typical HTF focus material it is good to see that even those films which do not rely on the audiovisual candy so heavily are treated well.