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BREAKIN' ALL THE RULES

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jamie Foxx, Morris Chestnut, Jennifer Espisito, Peter MacNicol, Gabrielle Union
Director: Daniel Taplitz
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1, Full Screen 1.33:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 85 Minutes
Release Date: October 12, 2004

"Baby, I think we need to talk."

Film **

2004 has clearly been the year for Jamie Foxx. A gifted comedic actor, Foxx surprised audiences with his serious turn as Tom Cruise's cabdriver/hostage in Michael Mann's brilliant Collateral. In addition, in just a couple of weeks to be precise, his much talked about performance of the late great soul legend Ray Charles in Ray will grace the screen. Clearly, Foxx has fulfilled the promise he displayed with dramatic supporting roles in Any Given Sunday and Ali.

Hopefully, Foxx will journey back to his comedy roots simply because he such a delight to watch. He's one of those stars who can make a viewing all the more pleasant with his effortless level of charisma, even if the material itself is a bit weak. Case in point, the romantic comedy Breakin' All the Rules.

Though it's at times funny and even a bit charming, the movie actually starts out with a good hint of promise before shooting itself right in the foot. The story centers on Quincy Watson (Foxx), a magazine writer who's preparing to enter the marriage life with his longtime girlfriend, Helen (Bianca Lawson). The night before the wedding, though, the engagement is called off when Quincy's bride to be confesses to having an affair.

Heartbroken and fully depressed, Quincy decides to quit his job and possibly give up on life. That is, until he gets an idea while writing multiple versions of an angry letter to her. That letter grows into a full length book titled "The Break Up Handbook". Before long, Quincy's book is a massive seller and Quincy himself is slowly but surely back on his feet.

Quincy's book manages to help his cousin, Evan (Morris Chestnut), who has a thing for choosing to break up with girls as part of a pre-emptive strike. Feeling paranoid that his current girlfriend, Nicky (Gabrielle Union) is about to break up with him, he sends Quincy to a bar to confront her and inform her that the relationship is done. Quincy does meet an attractive figure that night, who he finds a connection with. It's actually Nicky, who's had her hair cut and does not even fit Evan's description.

From here on out, Breakin' All the Rules formulates into a needlessly complicated romantic farce, with a level no more superior to that of a sitcom. The endless array of mistaken identity plot points and coincidental events tend to get a little trite after awhile. It's as if the movie wants to be told in such a complicated way to make up for the fact that storyline is obviously very predictable. We can foresee basically every turning point, like the expected betrayal between Quincy and Evan who end up being in love with the same woman without each other knowing it.

To make matters worse, the movie fills itself with too many characters than it needs. Not only does Quincy's cousin consult him for relationship troubles, but his own boss at the magazine, Gascon (Peter MacNicol) turns to him for help on dealing with a future marriage to Rita (Jennifer Espisito), which he is dead set against despite her advances on the issue. These characters, in addition to Nicky's co-workers at her job get a little too much screen time than needed.

If the movie wanted to succeed, it should've simply stuck with two story areas; Quincy's success with the book and the relationship with Nicky. Because it felt the need to be a bit clever, the movie gets sidetracked too many times with unnecessary characters and subplots, which add up to one too many cheap coincidences. It should be noted that all of the multiple plots and character crisis' are in a movie that runs 85 minutes long. Was there really no room for the romantic story at all?

The scenes between Jamie Foxx and Gabrielle Union are the best parts in the movie. They display a terrific level of chemistry right from their first moment on screen together. Again, had the movie stuck to being simply about their relationship, as well as Quincy's book deal, this would've been something of a movie.  

I'm not saying that such a movie shouldn't be clever, but Breakin' All the Rules ultimately tries way too hard to be more than what it is, which is what keeps it from being clever in the first place.

Video ***1/2

This is a very pleasant anamorphic presentation from Columbia Tri Star (full screen version is also included on this dual layered disc). The overall picture succeeds in achieving sharp imagery, terrific level of tones, and a nice vibrant array of colors. The level of detail is evident, if not complete in one brief scene, in a most exceptional offering from CTS.

Audio ***

This 5.1 mix shines quite a bit, especially in a few areas where upbeat hip hop music is played amongst scenes. The opening credit sequence as well as a dance club scene will definitely throw some boomin' bass. Dialogue is clean and delivered extremely well, with crossover signals executed very well and smoothly.

Features ***1/2

Columbia Tri Star applies their Special Edition touch with a good number of extras. Featured on the disc is a cast and crew commentary, a making of featurette concerning the Break Up Handbook, a Quincy Watson Mock Interview and a gag reel. Closing out the extras is something of a first; a newly colorized Three Stooges short film, "Hoi Polloi".

Summary:

Breakin' All the Rules has the proper ingredients for a witty and intelligent comedy, and does have slight moments of such. But its distracting subplots and borderline irritating coincidental plot points keep it from being such, despite the dependable talent of Jamie Foxx.

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