What you see is what you get in Jeff Rosenberg’s We Broke Up. A couple breaks up in the first two minutes and what follows are random yet predictable scenarios for the rest of the runtime as the two must pretend they’re still together for the sake of their family. It’s trope heavy with some genuine laugh-out-loud moments thanks to the performances from the actors—particularly The Good Places’s William Jackson Harper and Your the Worst’s Aya Cash, along with Sarah Bolger, and Tony Cavelero.
Harper plays Doug, an editor of some kind who proposes to his girlfriend of ten years in the lobby of a Chinese restaurant. Cash plays said girlfriend, Lori, and her inability to decide what she wants leads to the couple’s fallout. The breakup occurs on the eve of Bea’s (Bolger), Lori’s sister, wedding to Jayson (Cavelero). Not wanting to show up the wedding with bad news, Lori and Doug decide it’s best to wait until after the wedding to tell the family.
The start nicely sets up Doug and Lori’s dynamic, but as soon as they get to the wedding, anything that seemed interesting turns into boring anecdotes as told by Lori’s family members. They all love Doug and everyone assumes Doug and Lori are going to get married because that’s what should happen. The film stumbles when trying to articulate why this couple is breaking up. It seems to boil down to weddings equate to happiness, and not wanting to get married means things need to end, right now. A far more appealing story is happening alongside the most boring breakup with Bea and Jayson, who at first are clearly the comic relief, but the wonderful climatic bit of the film involves a runaway bride and an emotional catharsis between Jayson and Bea’s mother, Adelaide (Peri Gilpin).
The wedding takes place at a kid’s camp, for some reason, and introduces a large cast of secondary characters that make up the wedding party, but the film largely doesn’t know what to do with them. The plot is like taking a mad-libs story and turning it into a movie script—there’s not a lot of clear intention on why the wedding party is participating in a Paul Bunyan-themed pre-wedding party, it’s just going to happen.
While there’s nothing here story-wise that’s original or interesting, the actors bring what they can to the material. Harper in particular is really funny but affecting in some of his more vulnerable scenes, and Bolger and Cavelero elevate their comedy relief status to main couple ratings seamlessly. We Broke Up may be a story about a breakup, but what it lacks in originality, it makes up for in surprisingly tender moments in the most unexpected places.
We Broke Up is available to rent on Amazon