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Break Point

September 4, 2015
Break Point

Just in time for Labor Day weekend and the U.S. Open we get a tennis movie. Tennis, like golf, has always been sort of a country-club sport, and it carries a certain air of gentility. But Break Point shows that, when it comes to movies at least, tennis can be just as lowbrow and cretinous as any other game.

To be fair, most of the blame goes to Jimmy (Jeremy Sisto), an overgrown man-child washing out of his pro tennis career at 35 after alienating everyone who’d possibly consider being his doubles partner. He used to play with his brother, Darren (David Walton), and they won some amateur tournaments together. But Jimmy blew Darren off to partner up with someone else when he turned pro. Now Darren’s a substitute middle-school teacher, unemployed over the summer, being followed around by a weird kid from school named Barry (Joshua Rush).

With some nudging from their father, Jack (JK Simmons), Jimmy asks Darren to be his doubles partner again. First they’ll compete in a pre-qualifying tournament to get into a qualifying tournament in Palm Springs, which will win them a slot at the Open. Of course Darren wants nothing to do with Jimmy, but eventually comes around.

You can probably predict the patterns: Jimmy’s a hotheaded, aggressive player who needs to learn control. Darren’s a strategic, conservative player who needs to break out of his shell both on the court and off, where he has a crush on his dad’s veterinary assistant, Heather (Amy Smart).

She, on the other hand, is seeing someone else (Vincent Ventresca). Sure, he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy I’d want to hang out with, but Jimmy seems to think she’s not capable of making her own decisions about whom to date. And we’re evidently supposed to go along with it, so that Darren can have his prize woman at the end.

That’s kind of the way it goes over and over. Jimmy is a loathsome jerk, and Gene Hong’s script plays it like that’s hilarious. And it’s always in the most macho, sleazy, dudebro way possible. I’m surprised they don’t have him pop his collar and expect the audience to applaud. With few exceptions it’s boring, unimaginative, and puerile; the cinematic equivalent of the guy at the frat party who either wants you to pull his finger for the third time tonight or listen to him belch the alphabet backwards for the fifth. If you want comedy about, by, and for overgrown man-children like Jimmy, you’re in luck. Otherwise I’d stick with the actual U.S. Open this weekend.

Worth It: no.
Bechdel-Wallace Test: fail.
This review also appears at Punch Drunk Critics.

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