I don’t precisely recall when I started hearing good things about The Break-Up (which immediately makes my recollection a bit suspect), but it was sometime in February or March. It was vague but positive, and if you’d told me that come late May this Vince Vaughn-Jennifer Aniston dramedy (can it really be called an out-and-out comedy after Brian Lowry‘s Variety review?) would be getting slapped around pretty badly by critics and entertainment reporters, I would have said, “Really?” I’ve liked what I’ve been hearing about this thing for a long time — a fairly rough but realistic blow-by-blow of the end of a relationship. Yes, I reported some tracking figures a while back, and was criticized for saying “it’s finished” and for not reading them in context, but the numbers were the numbers and I didn’t “have it in” for the film. I hate “romantic comedies” and I’ve worshipped Vaughn’s rat-a-tat-tat schtick since Swingers. But the pile-on beatup syndrome has definitely kicked in, the two spear-points being that the Break-up is (a) too harsh and unfunny and (b) the ending is some kind of compromised fudge job. Ann Donahue‘s Premiere piece projects a $25 to $30 million opening for the film, says, having seen it, that “for anyone who has been through the thermonuclear ending of a relationship, there are a number of scenes that may strike a little too close to home.” But from what I’ve been reading about the ending, it sounds okay to me. Kate Kelly‘s Wall Street Journal piece on the film’s troubles (which I can’t link to) describes the finale as Vaughn and Aniston running into each other long after their breakup “and each on the arm of a new partner that resembles the old one.” That strikes me as life-like (people do tend to go for the same type) but not necessarily hopeful in terms of them getting back together.