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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Retro Review: Breakin' All The Rules (2004)

Breakin' All The Rules
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Peter MacNicol, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Esposito
Genre: Romantic Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $12 million 

Plot: Inspired by his fiance (who dumped him), a man publishes a break-up handbook for men, becoming a best-selling author in the process 

'Part Screwball Comedy, Breakin' All The Rules' Spin To The Rom- Com Makes It An Enjoyable Romp'

Breakin' All The Rules is one of those romantic comedies that guys can get into, just as much as women as well. It is a part-screwball comedy, fused with that grounded, down-to-earth approach that prevents it from being completely over the top and sappy. It is a movie about men dealing with relationships: both platonically and romantically and the lessons they learn from them and is seen from their perspective. 

After his successful stints on In Living Color and his self-titled sitcom back in the 1990s, Jamie Foxx stars in this early 2000s romantic comedy and first romantic comedy lead, playing a writer, Quincy Watson who is unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend out of the blue. Through this experience, he pens a how-to book on defining the rules of breaking up with someone. Soon after the book becomes a hit, Quincy becomes embroiled in a love triangle involving his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend. Other characters relationships become affected as well as all manner of complications, mix-ups arise, and with that, they all 'break the rules', as they stumble they way towards love.  

How does Breakin' All The Rules stack up for me? Well..... I actually liked this movie a lot. It may not be the most quintessential romantic comedy, but it offers a different spin to the formula and one that makes it much less cheesy and gag-inducing for me to tolerate. 

First and foremost, Jamie Foxx is great as Quincy, who goes a little crazy when his girlfriend dumps him, but after falling for Nicky, he realises how much he has fallen in love with her and his character is really likeable. He relies on his charisma and humour to get out of the trickiest situations, although it doesn't always pay off. Morris Chestnut is a good foil to Quincy as his cousin and who applies Quincy's techniques to full effect in his attempts to break up with Nicky, his girlfriend. Loved Gabrielle Union's performance and she does her best effort in playing off and in-between the two male leads, Jamie and Morris. I also loved her short haircut that had that ''Kelly Rowland of Destiny Child's'' look to it. Jamie Foxx and Gabrielle Union make a nice couple and they share good chemistry on-screen. And lastly, Jennifer Esposito and Peter MacNicol were very effective as the token supporting characters, especially through their own subplots. I actually enjoyed all of the characters in this movie: I didn't have one single problem with any of them. 

It plays out like an episode from a sitcom where the characters find themselves in a predicament and they have to resolve it by the end of it and that all parties become satisfied. And the thing that surprised me about Breakin' All The Rules and is what I really liked most about it is that it manages to accommodate both male and female perspectives of the characters, without dumbing them down too much, as well as making the film too sappy and gag-inducing. Especially for a film of this type. 

The main strengths of Breakin' are the subplots themselves that keep this film going to the very end, with all these revelations and situations unravelling. Without these and had they been not as well written as they were, this movie would have fallen apart, completely. But thankfully, Daniel Taplitz's writing makes this movie as eventful, entertaining and interesting as it is. The so-called 'rules' to breaking up tend to be ones that people can relate to. Such as changing your voicemail so that s/he do not obsessively call you over and over again. 

Some of the jokes in this movie aren't that effective, nor as amusing but for the most part, it was witty in places and this film did make me smile at times and the rest of the writing is solid, well written and consistent, along with the performances to back it up. The gags involving the old man and Gabrielle Union's character were amusing at times, oh and the pug was cute too. Even if the comedy is not its strongest aspect, for a rom-com, the characters and casting, the relationship aspect, and not forgetting the chemistry have to be believable for me, and here, it was believable and thanks to the performances, it made me want them to get their happy endings. 

Like many other rom-coms, this one doesn't break new ground - yet it also doesn't look out of place, whilst at the same time with its quick-wit and banter, it is the type of rom-com that will appeal to everyone and anyone, and not just women and fans of these movies. 

Final Verdict:

Breakin' All The Rules shows both male and female sides of how relationships can be a tricky thing to navigate when one person isn't completely honest with their other half. There are a couple of plot twists and subplots that occur, which are interesting and as a result, they make this film worthwhile. 

The comedy is a sort of a hit-and-miss affair; it wasn't as funny as I'd expected but also it's not overdone and throws it in your face. But insofar as the performances go, I was impressed by them and that the rest of the movie was enjoyable and entertaining. And as far as to where it stands as a romantic comedy, this turned out to be one of my personal favourite movies of this genre, and one of a few Black rom-coms that I found a good deal of enjoyment in, despite its lack of fanfare and popularity. 

It may not blow people's minds - not that romantic comedies do in general - yet Breakin' has enough charm, quality and wittiness that though they operate more on a screwball comedy level, it makes the movie very pleasant and easy-going that is made all the more watchable for the performances. 

If you're into a different type of romantic comedy or an African American rom-com that is sort of - but not so much on the lines of 'What Women Want' per- se, then this is for you. 


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