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Netflix’s The Breaker Upperers is more about friendship than it is about breaking up.
DIRECTOR: Jackie Van Beek, Madeleine Sami
‘The Breaker Upperers’ is a quirky, comedic film about friendship meant for ‘Broad City’ and ‘Mary + Jane’ fans—but it lacks momentum and focus.
When New Zealanders Mel (Madeleine Sami) and Jen (Jackie van Beek) found out 15 years ago that they were being two-timed by the same man, they did more than get an irrational post-breakup haircut: they started a business. Now in their late 30s, Mel and Jen still run the Breaker Upperers, where they break up couples for money by planning the most ridiculous stunts. Nothing is too crazy; they curate scenarios where the person who wants the breakup is caught cheating, has already cheated and impregnated another person, or—most dramatic of all—has died.
To the average person, this scheme probably sounds mean and pathetic for the people who don’t have the guts to directly communicate with their significant others. But to Mel and Jen, they are merely “guiding two souls toward the inevitable.” For 15 years, the duo works diligently and without remorse—until a breakup goes very wrong and leaves Mel with a conscience—bringing Mel and Jen on the verge of a breakup, themselves.
The Breaker Upperers is a quirky, comedic film about for Broad City and Mary + Jane fans. Comedians Sami and Beek perfectly portray two almost middle-aged women whose lives are a hilarious mess. While Jen still sleeps with men she hates and does cocaine in her parents’ bathroom during family dinners, Mel gets beat up in kickboxing classes and ogles over much younger men than herself. Both women aim to stick to their mantra: Don’t get attached and no one gets hurt. It’s ironic, however, because Jen and Mel clearly have major co-dependency issues with each other.
The movie boasts a diverse cast, although Sami and Beek clearly run the show in The Breaker Upperers—they also wrote and directed the film—with none of the supporting cast leaving a strong impression. Actor James Rolleston is cringeworthy and offputting as a love interest. Actresses Ana Scotney and Celia Pacquola are the only other standouts.
The Breaker Upperers‘ biggest downfall is that it lacks momentum and focus. It’s sprinkled with plenty of funny moments—from comical breakups to montages with Celine Dion playing in the background—but the point of the movie is hard to pin down. One moment, it appears to be about Jen and Mel’s business and its questionable morals, but then it appears to be about their friendship, and then it seems like it’s about coming to terms with your past. In the end, I guess it’s a little bit about all of those things. The movie clocks in at around 75 minutes. The brevity of the movie makes its lack of direction all the more noticeable—as does the fact that it oddly culminates in a lengthy flash mob dance.
But The Breaker Upperers is funny and just might cheer you up if your Valentine’s Day didn’t go as planned. It will hopefully also serve as a reminder as to why you should just directly break up with someone the old-fashioned way. If you don’t care about plot and just want a laugh, enjoy it.
Need more ideas? Here are our Netflix guides for the best war movies, documentaries, anime, indie flicks, true crime, food shows, gangster movies, Westerns, and movies based on true stories streaming right now. There are also sad movies guaranteed to make you cry, weird movies to melt your brain, and standup specials when you really need to laugh. Or check out Flixable, a search engine for Netflix.
Tess Cagle is a reporter who focuses on politics, lifestyle, and streaming entertainment. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Damn Joan, and Community Impact Newspaper. She’s also a portrait, events, and live music photographer in Central Texas.