Breakin' All the Rules review by Mike Long

It's been said that there are no new ideas in Hollywood. This claim is debatable, but it can be said with great certainty that every once in a while a movie comes along that features a great idea. However, time has shown us that a movie can't exist on a great idea alone and must have a good script to back that idea. The comedy Breakin' All the Rules features that desirable great idea, but little else.

Jamie Foxx stars in Breakin' All the Rules as Quincy Watson, an editor at "Spoil" magazine. Quincy's wimpy boss Philip (Peter MacNicol) asks Quincy to research the best way to terminate employees in a healthy manner, as the magazine is going through a downsizing. Quincy isn't crazy about this assignment, but he refuses to let it spoil his mood, as he plans to propose to his girlfriend Helen (Bianca Lawson) that night. However, Helen dumps Quincy at the engagement. Devastated, Quincy becomes a depressed recluse, and uses the psychology of employee termination research that he's acquired to write a manual on how to properly break up with someone. Philip loves the idea and the book is an overnight sensation.

Quincy's book would appear to be the perfect tool for people like his cousin Evan (Morris Chestnut), a man who dates women for no longer than three months. Fearing that his latest girlfriend, Nicky (Gabrielle Union), is going to dump him before he can dump her, Evan sends Quincy to a bar to meet Nicky and convince her that Evan is a great guy. But, because of a mix-up (due to the fact that Nicky has gotten an extreme haircut and no longer matches the description given to Quincy by Evan), Quincy meets Nicky at the bar and begins to hit on her, having no idea that she's her cousin's girl. However, Nicky knows exactly who Quincy is and plays along with him with plans to give him a comeuppance. This plan backfires as she begins to have feelings for Quincy. Once Quincy realizes who this woman is, he's torn between his attraction to her and his loyalty to his cousin.

I'm the first one to give credit where credit is due, and the idea of basing a "break-up" manual on the psychology of firing employees is genius and writer/director Daniel Taplitz must be commended for this. However, he clearly had no idea what to do with the rest of Breakin' All the Rules, as the film is a convoluted mess. As if the above synopsis isn't confusing enough, it doesn't include the TWO OTHER major plots in the film, which involve Philip's attempts to break-up with his girlfriend Rita (Jennifer Esposito) and Evan's involvement with Rita. The promise of the film's first 15 minutes (where the manual premise is introduced) quickly evaporates, as Breakin' All the Rules devolves into a series of sub-Three's Company mistaken identity and double-crossing plots. The movie acknowledges the fact that the audience can accept an intelligent idea and then shoots only for the lowest common denominator. The movie contains way too many characters and even at 85 minutes, it seems to drag on forever.

This would all be forgivable is the movie was at least funny, but it really isn't. The only laughs in the movie come from the off-the-cuff remarks made by Foxx -- most of which sound as if they weren't scripted. This means that the rest of the cast is wasted, especially the considerable comedic talents of Peter MacNicol are wasted. The movie reaches it's low-point when it turns to animal antics for laughs (alcoholic animal antics at that). The number one rule broken in Breakin' All the Rules is that one must follow-up that great idea with a good story.

Breakin' All the Rules cheats its way onto DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The DVD contains both the widescreen and full-frame versions of the film. For the purposes of this review, only the widescreen version was viewed. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks fairly good, as the image is clear and free from intrusive grain. However, the picture is noticeably soft at times and there is some evidence of artifacting -- mostly from the halos which constantly surround the characters. The colors are good and the image shows no defects from the source material. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue with no hissing or distortion. The film's constant R&B and rap soundtrack sounds great here, as it offers a nice amount of subwoofer and surround sound action.

The Breakin' All the Rules DVD contains a few extras. There is an audio commentary with writer/director Daniel Taplitz, producer Lisa Tornell, and star Gabrielle Union. This is an OK commentary as they talk about a variety of topics, but mostly discuss the actors and the dog in the movie. Trust me, you'll learn more about this dog than you'd ever want to know. "The Break-Up Handbook" (18 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers many clips from the film along with some behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the cast and crew. It offers a brief overview of the plot and then examines the actors and characters. The "Quincy Watson Mock Interview" (5 minutes) is the complete TV interview with Foxx's character which is briefly glimpsed in the finished film. Foxx is clearly ad-libbing here and there are a few laughs. There are also some laughs in the 2-minute Blooper Reel. And for the last extra, we have a colorized version of The Three Stooges "Hoi Polloi" (18 minutes). Why?

4 out of 10 Jackasses

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