The Breaker Upperers
Jackie van Beek, Madeleine Sami, James Rolleston, Celia Pacquola, Ana Scotney
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…a film that’s absolutely worth dating, but is unlikely to be “the one”.
Breaking up, we are reliably informed in song, is hard to do. There are tears, raised voices, (occasionally) hurled furniture and drama for days. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if someone else could do the breaking up for you? Director/writer/actors, Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami lean into this concept and star as the titular relationship enders, performing the very niche service for a hefty fee for the emotionally cowardly all over New Zealand. It’s a fantastic premise, one that is rife with comedic potential, and initially The Breaker Upperers is a total blast.
Jackie (playing “Jackie”) is the more cynical of the pair, never quite recovering from a previous relationship that soured her on anything more serious than a quick fuck. Madeleine (as “Madeleine”), on the other hand, still cautiously believes that romance could be possible, although she tries to hide that from Jackie. They’re an extremely likeable, albeit utterly dysfunctional pair, and perfect vehicles through which to deliver the chuckles. The problem with The Breaker Upperers, however, is that after a fantastic first act it seems unsure where to go next. What begins as a tightly-written, acerbic comedy slows down into a series of loosely assembled, possibly improvised skits that lack the sharpness of the opening.
There’s nothing wrong with improvisation in comedy, of course. Executive Producer Taika Waititi uses it to great effect in his own works like What We Do In The Shadows and Thor: Ragnarok, however The Breaker Upperers never takes it anywhere unexpected. Don’t misunderstand us here, you’ll laugh a whole lot in The Breaker Upperers, it’s frequently very funny, but what begins as a smart, abrasive comedy becomes a surprisingly traditional feel good caper, with a strangely inert second act.
The Breaker Upperers is a good film with some solid laughs, but early glimpses of genius give way to something much more familiar, and predictable, which feels like a missed opportunity. It’s a film that’s absolutely worth dating, but is unlikely to be “the one”.