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"Breakin' All the Rules"

Directed by Daniel Taplitz.
Written by Daniel Taplitz.
Starring Jamie Foxx, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union and Jennifer Esposito.
Release Year:  2004 
Review Date:  5/11/04


My mom and I had a freebie, thanks to my friend Tricia, so right from the start, "Breakin' All the Rules"--the new comedy with Jamie Foxx and Morris Chestnut--was looking smooth to me.  Plus, thanks to a promotion by local hip-hop station WPGC 95.5, I was guaranteed a solid, loud black audience, which I have said time and again are required for getting the true black comedy experience.

Foxx stars as Quincy, a magazine editor that opens the film by getting dumped by his longtime model girlfriend and enduring a substantial amount of emotional pain over the breakup.  He decides that rather than get mad, he'll get even by writing a book, The Breakup Handbook, that will help men avoid the same pitfalls he suffered through by making men more assertive in handing their girlfriends the proverbial pink slip.  Quincy's cousin Evan (Chestnut) takes the advice and dumps his current lady, Nikki (Gabrielle Union)...and Quincy unknowingly picks up the pieces, starting a romance that Evan wouldn't approve of if he knew it was going on.

And, the romantic comedy of errors begins.  Writer/director Daniel Taplitz's film feels a lot like two other vehicles that just happened to star two of his current film's stars:  "The Brothers" (with Chestnut) and "Two Can Play That Game" (with Union)...and, like those two films, the sexual politics are not news to anyone, but the execution of some of the comedy in "Breakin' All the Rules" really is hilarious, thanks to Foxx's great performance and some of the support from Quincy's boss (Peter MacNichol, almost over-the-top in his whiteness) and from Patrick Cranshaw, who played Blue in "Old School" but nearly steals the movie with one of the funniest one-liners of the year...which I can't even give away because it's just so beautiful when you hear it!!

A decent soundtrack and good visuals (no one will ever turn away from watching Union or Chestnut for long stretches) make the 85-minute film fly by.  The ending, though, is badly drawn out and may in fact make you gag out loud, but you knew what you signed up for when you walked into the theater, right?  Dog potty humor doesn't seem to fit with the other kinds of comedy in "Breakin' All the Rules", but it might provide you with a chuckle or two.  At times, the film just looks kind of cheap, too; maybe that was our projector, but I don't think so.  Screen Gems (the "ghetto house" studio of Sony's that puts out all of its urban films) at least stays consistent with its past in this regard.

"Breakin' All the Rules" is a good time, a brisk comedy that is completely forgotten by morning.  Foxx does give his normally charismatic performance a boost by being a likeable romantic lead, and this is what drives the film to its inevitable sappy conclusion.  Nothing to write home about, though!

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09