If I didn’t know better, I’d call “The Break-Up” DVD brave. By adding the original ending to the disc — and dangling it as a key enticement to buy the DVD — Universal is inviting dangerous comparisons.
U went to great trouble to reshoot the sublimely funny — if long — original ending, replacing it with a calculated audience pleaser. That tactic paid off handsomely at the B.O., giving Universal the last laugh over the pic’s many naysayers.
But from a creative standpoint, the reshot ending is far less satisfying. The actors strain to sell the chance encounter as portentous, but don’t succeed. Their interaction seems far more natural — and promising — in the original ending. Plus, between the doppelganger dates and giddy perf by the Tone Rangers, it’s far more amusing.
A quick glance at the deleted scenes confirms the suspicion there was a funny, or at least funnier, movie trapped inside the one that played on the bigscreen. It almost had to be with thesps like Vince Vaughn, John Michael Higgins, Jason Bateman and Justin Long involved, and Peyton Reed, helmer of giddy pleasures like “Bring It On,” on board to direct.
So what happened? In commentaries accompanying the reject material, Reed and Vaughn, a producer who helped develop the pic, repeatedly invoke pacing and tone as reasons for the excised moments. That may be partially true, but Vaughn seems to have been particularly intent on deviating from the usual romantic comedy conventions at all costs, even occasional splashes of humor.
The pic stays almost punishingly on message: Breakups are no laughing matter.
The studio, meanwhile, wanted to please moviegoers who did want a traditional romantic comedy, happy ending and all. Tabloid speculation about the romance between Vaughn and co-star Jennifer Aniston, then recently abandoned by Brad Pitt, only fueled the fire. So Universal tested the pic, eventually scrapping the original ending because auds liked the new one better.
Even the co-stars disagree about what happens after the movie ends. In their shared commentary accompanying the film, Vaughn threw water on any suggestion of reunion between the two characters, while, says Aniston, “I think she’s going to call him in a week.”
With the new ending, Universal tried to have it both ways — and scored big. So maybe touting this material on the disc isn’t so brave after all. It just gives U another marketing hook — and the chance to have the last laugh all over again.
“X Men: The Last Stand” comes with even more alternate endings — three — but they are far less provocative and will likely be of interest only to fans of the franchise. One has Wolverine return to his Canadian hometown, but that, new franchise director Brett Ratner explains, would rely too much on moviegoers having seen the original. The other two involve Anna Paquin’s Rogue character. None packs the punch of the ending filmmakers ultimately chose.
Such is usually the case with alternate endings.
“X Men,” which also comes with an exclusive Stan Lee comicbook in a collector’s edition, kicks off homevid’s fourth-quarter title wave. Many more discs bearing rescued rejects are on the way, but none of the other big summer hits appears to have an alternate ending in the offing.
The next biggest redo of the season: “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut.” Part of a massive “Superman” set arriving Nov. 28, it restores material ditched when Richard Lester replaced Donner on the pic almost 30 years ago.