The Breaker Upperers, 2018.
Directed by Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek.
Starring Madeleine Sami, Jackie van Beek, James Rolleston, Celia Pacquola, and Ana Scotney.
Two professional cynics, Jen (Jackie van Beek) and Mel (Madeleine Sami), run an agency where they offer their unique talents in breaking up couples so that the individual can move on with their life. It can take the form of a kidnapping, missing person, pregnancy scam, doorstep serenade, or adulteress pregnancy, and they’re the best in the business.
Surfing a wave of Kiwi comedy which has treated us to What We Do in the Shadows and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, both directed by executive producer Taika Waititi, The Breaker Upperers can sit proudly amongst such esteemed titles thanks to an off-the-chart laugh ratio and the irresistible dry-wit chemistry shared between writer/director partnership Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek.
The perfect mix of comedy that’ll charm the pants off you, as well as having you double check said garments to ensure you haven’t wet them at the same time. It springs from the blocks, establishing a world of eccentrics with a montage of clients putting across their cases. Every single one them, from the culturally attuned observation of a same-sex couple offering up “Just because we get gay marriage, doesn’t mean we have to follow through with it”, to the desperate father responding to the accusation that he hates his kids with “Nah, one of em!”, are all hilarious, setting a bar which the film clears with regularity.
In fact, the first hour is so breathlessly funny, filled with Celine Dion karaoke sessions, and some lines guaranteed to bring the house down, that you might be wondering what constitutes for a plot. Fear not, because beneath the idiosyncratic laughs and set-pieces, of which a K-Ci & JoJo inspired routine is one of the year’s best, can be found a big beating heart and story about friendship.
This is all down to Sami and van Beek, who know when to dial up their characters personalities to eleven, such as in the strangest Police interrogation scene in a long time, but also imbue them with a propensity to be utterly loveable amongst the madness. They’re also generous when it comes to distributing the laughs, with James Rolleston’s sweet natured jock getting a fare share of the more memorable zingers, and Celia Pacquola impressing as a client whose need for aftercare conflicts with their amoral vocation.
Their creative relationship is one that goes against the gimmick of the movie, but based on this evidence, you hope it’s a long and fruitful one, because The Breaker Upperers is a thoroughly modern, consistently funny comedy, and the best of the year at that.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter