Comedy is subjective, that’s a given. So, when the core concept of The Breaker Upperers is explored in the opening moments – two women who professionally break up with people for them – has them faking someone’s death and breaking their demise to their partner, well, you’re either rolling in the aisle or looking for the exit.
New Zealand humour is a little bit like Aussie humour – dry, sardonic, self deprecating and often dark, yet, with equal amounts of humanity and warmth. Under the guidance of the assumed kings of New Zealand comedy – Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clements – directors, writers, and actors, Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami, harness the tropes of NZ comedy and make it something truly hilarious.
Playing loose with the ‘plot’, The Breaker Upperers is a little bit more than a vessel for a series of comedic ideas strung together. Some work, such as the lovestruck puppy eyed teen Jordan (a truly hilarious James Rolleston), and others don’t work so much (such as a third act ‘your family member is dead’ break up). The line between truly dark comedy and light fluffy comedy is a tight one to straddle, and it takes a seasoned comedian to be able to manage such a swap, and unfortunately it doesn’t always work well here. This is no major slight on the directors – there is a first time film feel here, but just like Waititi’s Eagle VS Shark there is a real notion that there is genuine talent working here. The promise of this one film is enough to have you excited for the other great entertainment that will come down the line.
One thing for certain about The Breaker Upperers is that it has two music scenes that have already made it into being all timers. One particular sequence with a Celine Dion film is an instant comedy classic – one that’ll rank high at the end of the year. The other is a 90’s R&B song that will have you laughing and clapping at the end.
This is the sort of film you need to experience with a large audience. It’ll find legs with those who love comedy, and it’ll carry on even further thanks to the superb women behind and in front of the camera. It’s so often that this kind of story is told with a Will Ferrell/Vince Vaughn-esque film, so it’s superb to see those tables turned with the great double header of Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami.
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