Sunday, March 8, 2020

10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up: Movie Review

Low-key rom-com missing humour.
10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up is a clever title. Unfortunately, it’s a better title than it is a movie, a movie that just can’t tap into the humour and wit that it needs. It’s a very low-key romantic comedy – dare I say, mature, which is a smart angle for its target audience. That target audience is me and others who have grown up on romantic comedies, but they haven’t grown up with us. This one is for the grown ups.   2020

Directed by: Galt Niederhoffer

Screenplay by: Galt Niederhoffer

Starring: Christina Ricci, Hamish Linklater

Abigail (Christina Ricci) is a divorced mother of two, and undoubtedly the stable one who moved on from her ex-husband’s immature antics and still continually frustrated by his inability to do the basic co-parenting things. When the kids are with their father for the weekend, Abigail has her only night off. Which leads to two glasses of wine at a bar and a charming stranger. I say charming because Ben is played by Hamish Linklater; he’s cute, funny in a very effortless way, and nonchalantly strikes up a conversation. That conversation leads to the title, but it is a bit of a let-down since it’s just not that funny.

I get the sense that the filmmakers were so psyched to get Christina Ricci and Hamish Linklater that refining dialogue and building up characters to help connect the audience got dropped from the to-do list. Despite perfect casting, the characters and the dialogue are just too lifeless.

Ben is a stranger in every way. Obviously, Abigail doesn’t know him and thought he was just going to be a one-night stand. But the audience doesn’t know him either. The movie is entirely about their relationship, but he’s not a whole person, he’s just half of the relationship. We know things like he calls himself immature, he doesn’t have kids, and he hasn’t thought about the future, but we don’t know anything about who he was before he met Abigail. Which significantly impacts the audience’s ability to connect to the two leads.

My final issue is the pro-life message. When Abigail matter-of-factly informs Ben that he impregnated her, and Ben is understandably frazzled trying to the come up with what to say, he brings up the idea of not having the baby. Abigail responds by calling him a psychopath. To the casual viewer there are a lot of reasons for Abigail to at least consider having an abortion, and yet she can’t even have that conversation. She also later refers to anybody who does consider abortion as just using it as a form of birth control. Surely Abigail can communicate her reasons for being pro-life without resorting to name-calling, but alas she can’t, and she’s supposedly the mature one.

10 Things We Should Do Before We Break Up relies heavily on its actors to be charming. They certainly have their moments, but the pro-life message will alienate some viewers, and the lack of comedy and connection to the characters will lose the others.