Sunday, May 30, 2021

We Broke Up: Movie Review

Solid comedy and simplistic drama.
We Broke Up has a very simplistic premise: a young couple break up before a wedding they’re both attending and decide to pretend they’re still together. The potential for comedy is obvious, and it works. The film starts quick and light with jokes involving Lori and Doug’s break-up, disagreements about who gets to attend the wedding, and then we arrive to meet the happy-go-lucky bride, the insane groom, and the disapproving mother. All game for providing more laughs.   2021

Directed by: Jeff Rosenberg

Screenplay by: Jeff Rosenberg, Laura Jacqmin

Starring: Aya Cash and William Harper Jackson

I love the set-up. Aya Cash is Lori, content with her life the way it is; William Jackson Harper is Doug, in love with Lori and ready for the next pre-destined steps of life involving buying a house and having kids. They’ve been together for 10 years because they just fit so well together. The casting is perfection, but just as importantly, the audience is going to love both of these people. There is no villain in their relationship or break-up. They are both sweet people that have a few flaws. Their break-up may hurt their loved ones more than each other.

The wedding couple is Lori’s younger sister Bea (Sarah Bolger), innocent and na├»ve, and Jayson (Tony Cavalero), loud, brash, impulsive, and it definitely seems like they are rushing into this marriage. These kids are the opposite of the stable couple of Lori and Doug, so surely disaster is just around the corner?

They’ve decided to hold their wedding at a former campsite Lori and Bea attended as children. Complete with rustic cabins, obstacle games to be played and enough individuality to help give this film more of a personality than just a wedding comedy. Harper’s Doug has been given the made-up role of “King of the Ushers” and delivers a speech to the bride that is funny and sweet, and provides the right amount of background on the characters. The short run-time works because there is a lot of efficient writing here.

The comedy slows down as the film becomes more of a discussion on what will make a successful marriage. Lori and Doug continue to grapple with their decision to break-up, and look less and less like a stable couple as the wedding weekend comes to a close. Cash and Harper naturally assume the wise and knowing couple role and impart less than helpful advice to Bea and Jayson.

The big detraction is how superficial these marriage and relationship discussions are. The comedy gives way to a dramatic look at why Lori and Doug won’t work and how Bea and Jayson can prove everyone wrong. The reasons are all valid, but simplistic. No twists, no surprises, no great evolution to the characters, just an uneventful ‘life goes on’ type of movie.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my time with these characters. It’s funny when it needs to be, and Aya Cash and William Jackson Harper are fantastic. The comedy and the realness come so effortlessly to them, and provide a really great dynamic where you’re rooting for success but know failure is probably the better option.