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Thursday, June 1, 2006 06:31 am

Breaking up is hard to do

They aren’t just from different planets — they’re from different galaxies

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Men may be from Mars and women from Venus, but Brooke and Gary aren’t just from different planets — they’re from different galaxies. She likes ballet; his idea of high culture is Grand Theft Auto. She likes things clean; he couldn’t care less if their tony condominium looks like a sty. She works at a high-end art gallery; he’s a tour-bus guide, escorting visitors around Chicago. She’s all about elaborate centerpieces at dinner; he’d rather replace the dining-room table with a pool table. How did these two ever get together? That’s the question that The Break-Up poses, not just for Brooke and Gary (Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn) but for every couple who’ve drifted apart and considered reconciling. Every long relationship reaches a crossroads: A couple argues about the dishes, but the conflict is really about respect. They’re yelling and screaming — and not listening to a thing the other is saying. For Brooke and Gary, the tipping point comes when he brings home three lemons instead of the dozen that Brooke requested. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal; she sees it as another example that he just doesn’t care. In a moment of anger, Gary yells that he just wants to be left alone; Brooke grants his wish. However, the one thing that neither one of them wants to give up is the condominium they share — and so begins a game of one-upmanship in which each does their best to make the other’s life as miserable as possible. Director Peyton Reed does a fine job of navigating this difficult material as he balances the comedy with the pathos. The film is as moving as it is funny, and credit goes to Reed for rendering these moments with equal skill. If the film has a fault, it is that it left me wanting more from the supporting characters, including Jon Favreau as Gary’s paranoid best friend, Jason Bateman as a peacemaking real-estate agent, and screen vet Vincent D’Onofrio as Gary’s brother. Joey Lauren Adams, Ann-Margret, Judy Davis and Peter Billingsley also appear — and it’s because this cast is so talented that we wish they’d been given the chance to bust loose.

In theaters this week. . .
An American Haunting [PG-13] Documented as the first death of a human caused by a spirit, the story of a 19th century Tennessee family and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of their daughter. ShowPlace West
The Benchwarmers [PG-13] A trio of middle-aged has-beens forms a baseball team to compete against area Little League teams in a feeble attempt to gain some dignity. White Oaks
The Da Vinci Code [PG-13] The suspenseful tale of a death in the Louvre and a symbolic conundrum linked to the Priory of Sion, a mysterious group holding a deep secret that could shake the foundation of modern day Christianity. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East
Just My Luck [PG-13] Ashley, a Manhattan mover and shaker, flip flops fortunes with an ill-fated young man after a kiss. She’s no longer lady lucky. ShowPlace East
Mission Impossible 3 [PG-13] With his team reassembled, spy Ethan Hunt steps out of retirement to stop the evil deeds of Owen Davian, a devious weapons supplier. ShowPlace West, Route 66 Drive-In

Over the Hedge [PG] RJ, a fast-talking shady raccoon, persuades a community of rodents living on the outskirts of suburbia to take a chance and enter the wonderful world of scavenging food from humans. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East
Poseidon [PG-13] A remake of the maritime adventure flick about a sinking ocean liner and the passengers stranded on board. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East, Route 66 Drive-In
R.V. [PG] The Munro family attempts to have an old-fashioned camping trip to the Rockies, but a group of cracked campers beat them to the punch. ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East, Route 66 Drive-In

Scary Movie 4 [PG-13] Fourth in a series that pokes fun at the horror genre. White Oaks
See No Evil [R] A group of criminal teens are sent to clean a decrepit hotel only to find they are trespassing on the territory of a reclusive serial killer. ShowPlace West
Stick It [PG-13] Rebellious Haley leaves her life of trouble after a clash with the police to return to a prim and polished existence as a top gymnast with a celebrated coach. ShowPlace West

X-Men: The Last Stand [PG-13] A new cure that reverses mutations causes tempers to flare in this third and final installment of the X-Men tale. Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East
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