The Breaker Upperers

If I see Taika Waititi’s name on anything, I will watch it. Sadly, he’s only the producer of this New Zealand comedy, but I can see why he signed on to the project. It has many of the elements that make his movies such delights, but it does lack a certain something to elevate the film into a memorable category.

Best friends Mel and Jen own a business together. It’s a rather unique business in that people pay them to break up with their significant others for them. They can purchase different packages, that require different levels of sneakiness. One of the first we see, the two are dressed as New Zealand cops, explaining to a bereaved woman that her husband has gone missing hiking in the woods, when in fact he’s sitting in their car. It’s a way out for cowards, who can’t speak to their partners seriously. At least, that’s how Jen justifies it. Why not making money doing it? And it would be fine if Mel didn’t make friends with one of their “victims” and fall in love with one of their clients.

Often funny, especially in that New Zealand way, The Breaker Upperers seems to run out of ideas fairly quickly. The humor is dry and amazing if you love New Zealand’s unique brand of quirkiness (Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords shows up). And several of the running gags are played up for unique laughs.

IMDB says the movie’s runtime is 90 minutes. I’m betting it’s more like one hour if you cut the credits and tone down some slow motion. The eventual dissolution and reformation of the central friendship happens so fast you can blink and miss it. I wholeheartedly believe creators Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami are in for good careers, even outside of New Zealand. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you were only mildly amused by this comedy.

2.5 out of 4 stars

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