Lazy Like a Foxx

Breakin' All the Rules packs all the fun of a mediocre sitcom.

Breakin' All the Rules
Jamie Foxx plays a magazine editor who writes a different kind of self-help book.
Jamie Foxx plays a magazine editor who writes a different kind of self-help book.
If even one of the major networks had a successful sitcom in the vein of Friends but with an all-black cast, movies like Breakin' All the Rules would have no reason for existence. Part of an ever-expanding subgenre that includes The Brothers, Two Can Play That Game, and Deliver Us From Eva, Breakin' All the Rules serves very little purpose beyond reminding us that there are black people in the world, and they have love lives as well as decent jobs. When it comes to establishing an actual plot beyond those parameters, little thought appears to have been expended.

Not that white folks don't have their share of silly romantic trifles, often starring the likes of Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts, but those films usually have some high-concept gimmick, like a leading man in a coma or a gay husband. Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union, on the other hand, who seem perennially stuck in a cinematic holding pattern, always end up portraying smart career people who misunderstand each other slightly, leading to somewhat-less-than-wacky misunderstandings.

Jamie Foxx is the ostensible leading man here, playing magazine editor Quincy Watson, who, after being ordered to fire a number of fellow employees and being dumped by his fiancée ("Everything between us is too right, too easy," she sobs), combines the two notions and devises a handbook for "firing" your significant other. In this movie's world, it is apparently a piece of cake to publish and widely distribute any book idea that strikes one's fancy, so before long Quincy is a mini-celebrity.

That's when things get cuh-ray-zay! Quincy's womanizing best friend, Evan (Chestnut), fears that his woman, Nicky (Union), is about to break up with him, so he sends Quincy to meet and soften her up before a scheduled date. Quincy, who doesn't recognize her, hits it off with her, but drops enough conversational tidbits to inadvertently reveal his identity as Evan's buddy (she fools him with a fake name). Meanwhile, Evan intercepts a phone call at Quincy's home from the gold-digging girlfriend (Jennifer Esposito) of Quincy's boss (Peter MacNicol), who had previously asked Quincy for breakup advice. Mistaking Evan for Quincy, said gold digger has sex with Evan as an implied quid pro quo for staying away from the boss.

Writer-director Daniel Taplitz seems to be trying to invoke classic screwball with this convoluted setup, but it plays like mediocre sitcom. If even one of the characters were to actually behave like a real person, the jig would be up and the concept ruined.

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