I love a lot about The Breaker Upperers. I love its utterly mean-spirited premise, where a pair of friends run a business breaking up unsuccessful couples. I love the charisma and comedic energy of its stars (and writer-directors) Madeline Sami and Jackie van Beek. I love how it’s unapologetically queer and unapologetically Kiwi, brimming over with a weird New Zealand sense of humour.
Unfortunately, I don’t love the film itself.
The Breaker Upperers is a classic example of a film that’s funny because of its looseness, but falls apart because it refuses to be too anarchic – insisting on splitting the film into three subplots that hew too closely to the rom-com handbook – while lacking the structure necessary for its jokes to consistently land. Why, for instance, do we spend so long with Cohen Holloway – playing a dude who once dated both women – when there’s no payoff? Why is the “Breaker Upperer” stuff largely relegated to an opening montage?
The Breaker Upperers strikes me as a proof of concept; an excellent first draft with an excellent cast that calls out for a lot more tightening up – or a lot less. Instead, it strikes an awkward middle ground that’s, regrettably, just okay.