New Zealand has produced a series of great comedies, many of which were directed by Taika Waititi (the director of Thor: Ragnarok), such as Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and What We Do in The Shadows. Thankfully, Breaker Upperers is no exception. Produced by Waititi, and starring Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek (who also co-wrote and directed this gem of a comedy), The Breaker Upperers is the next-in-line to inherit New Zealand’s increasing high comedy-status.
It focuses on two best friends, Jen (van Beek) and Mel (Sami), who run a company that breaks people up for a profit, often with over-the-top methods—like crashing weddings and faking everything from pregnancies to kidnappings. As the Aussie Utopia star, Celia Pacquola—who plays Anna, a victim of their business—perfectly phrases it, “You work for weak assholes who don’t have the guts to talk to their partners”.
The two women began the business after discovering they were being two-timed by the same sleazy guy, a backstory explained in an amusing 80s styled music video, which then led to an unlikely but spirited friendship. This friendship is tested when Mel falls for their latest client, the beautiful—yet idiotic—18-year-old Jordan (James Rolleston), as well as providing support for an unknowing Anna, whose partner they helped leave; decisions that Jen finds troubling.
At times, it’s a little frustrating how childish the women can each be—one of them thinks that it’s a great idea to date a guy who thinks Mel is short for Melon (he is undoubtedly my favourite character), while the other is infuriately attached to her ex. It is supposed to be a comedy, and when unrealistic things begin to happen and characters are grossly exaggerated, they do make for some hysterical scenes; but the women just seemed a little too immature at times for how smart they were conveyed at others.
And I have to ask: how did any of their break-ups succeed when they were impersonating the police? One call to the actual police to ask about their “kidnapped” or “missing” partner, and I’m sure they would have been busted.
But that’s kind of beside the point.
The film is, after all, hilarious. Which means these tiny grievances don’t matter, because if it works, it works, and The Breaker Upperers does more than just work. With entertaining comedy throughout, despite getting a little diluted towards the end, The Breaker Upperers is officially my new go-to film when I need a good laugh.
My only serious warning is this: DO NOT, under any circumstances, WATCH THE TRAILER. The trailer is hysterical. It got me so pumped for the film that I showed it to my friends and watched it on its own just for a laugh. I was well and truly excited for the hilarity that was to ensue. And it did ensue … in exactly the same way as portrayed in the trailer. Unluckily for me, and probably everyone else in the cinema that night, the trailer contains pretty much all the great lines in the film, and it spoiled a big chunk of the conflict. I had thought The Breaker Upperers would introduce even more laughable lines but instead I found myself remembering many of the punchlines before the jokes were finished.
Don’t get me wrong, I still loved this film. The good bits are fantastic, and the film piles on the hilarity scene after scene—just stay far away from the trailer … otherwise, a refreshing comedy will become frustratingly spoiled.
The Breaker Upperers is in Perth cinemas now.