The Breaker Upperers
Directors: Madeleine Sami/Jackie van Beek
The much-hyped The Breaker Upperers is a giant dud; a turkey. You get the feeling it was made in real-time almost, plotted out scene by scene as it’s happening. Shoot something. Wait. Print. Write a new scene. That’s the diminishing-returns aspect. The trailer-worthy highlights appear thick, fast, then it’s a wasteland lacking wit and charm, truly, deeply unfunny.
At its best – the idea that two women would run a service where they invent elaborate schemes for those lacking the spine to conclude a relationship – is a 90-second sketch; maybe it’s a five-minute short. Well, instead we have the longest short film ever, long on cliché, short on ideas.
Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami wrote, co-directed and star in this. And I guess they give it a go, but there’s just nothing much to work with, which would have made for awkward internal conversations: The stars should be blaming the writers, the script-hacks could bemoan the directors’ lack of vision, loose grasp of pacing; said directors could have a whinge at the lack of talent about them…
But this features a veritable Who’s That? of the Auckland comedy scene, topped of with a few Why Them/Why Now? moments to boot.
Most criminally, and the immediate proof the original idea wasn’t pondered too long, is that within minutes we’re all but done away with the Breaker-Upperers gag to instead pursue some shaggy-dog rom-com that allows for creep perving characters because woman-on-woman objectification is, if not hilarious, then certainly a-okay and cartoonish stereotypes abound.
Yes, yes, it’s all just meant to be a bit of fun.
Would have had half a chance then if there was some.
Dull as dishwater and not even as inviting.
The Breaker Upperers had me thinking back to things like Stick Men, arriving all-hype and barely delivering, but the “good sorts having a go” cliché and the easy defence of “well what have you ever done?” is all that ever gets this shit over the line I reckon. Also, that’s a tad cruel to Stick Men. Yes, it was a dirty rip-off of early Guy Ritchie but it seemed to at least want to have more going for it. It tried way too hard, but hey, at least it tried. By the end of just 81 minutes The Breaker Upperers is limping over the finish line, punch-drunk, pleased with itself but finishing last…its producer whisper-answering the question of how to end it with: “Aw, Kiwi cinema-goers love a good ironic sing-and-dance thing, cue up some old R’n’B jam eh…”