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Consider it the definitive answer to all that are-they-or-aren’t-they stuff: The kickoff conflict in Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn’s tabloid-driven ballyhoo, The Break-Up, includes the sentiment “It’s not that I want you to do the dishes. I want you to want to do the dishes.” That’s the kind of thing only a real-life girlfriend could say, don’t you think? Aniston’s Brooke, a stylish art-museum employee, is rightfully furious when her longtime beau, Vaughn’s guy’s-guy tour guide Gary, heads right to the couch to play video games both before and after an elegant dinner party for which she did all the work. And even though Gary has a valid point about just wanting to relax for a bit when he gets home—plus a sorta-valid yet beside-the-point point in “Why would I want to do the dishes?”—Brooke announces that she’s had enough and, big surprise, breaks up with him. Except that they co-own their gorgeous and appreciating Chicago condo, and both refuse to move out. Directed by Peyton Reed (Bring It On, Down With Love) and written by freshmen scripters Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender (with a story credit going to Vaughn), The Break-Up mixes a significant amount of comedy into an essentially sad story. Instead of coming off as jumbled, though, the movie is surprisingly efficient—especially when it comes to detailing how easily some people can be pushed into pettiness. Naturally, most of the humor comes courtesy of the logorrheic Vaughn, whose Gary bounces one quick retort after another off of Aniston’s solid straight woman. (Also amusing are Judy Davis, as Brooke’s arrogant, eccentric boss, and John Michael Higgins, as Brooke’s goofy, obviously closeted brother.) Besides a blatant Simpsons rip-off involving a particularly hostile game of Pictionary, the script’s frequent gags are fresh and funny—and often non-chick-flicky. There’s a Brazilian-wax joke, but also an unexpected ass-kicking from Brooke’s brother when Gary complains about his a cappella group, the Tone Rangers, practicing in Brooke’s bedroom. Sure, there’s a bit of outlandishness as the now-roommates try to one-up each other in the revenge department. But overall, The Break-Up is realistic and honest, reinforcing the idea that amicable separations tend to exist only in publicity statements. —Tricia Olszewski