Breakin' All the Rules

One of the nicer surprises about Jamie Foxx is his slow evolution into a capable actor. He began his career on In Living Color, and soon had his own show, entitled, properly enough, The Jamie Foxx show. His humor tended towards the dumb, as evidenced by his first big foray into films, Booty Call. However, his choice in roles has gotten much better, and a strong performance in Any Given Sunday forced critics to take notice of him as more than a comic actor. Ali showed that he could morph into a more subdued role, and Bait was the typical action flick. Now Breakin' All the Rules is his chance to show his chops as a romantic lead, and he does well. Foxx tempers his tendencies towards slapstick comedy, adding just enough to be funny. He does have a lot of charisma, which helps an otherwise typically lame genre romantic comedy.

Foxx is Quincy Watson, who catapults to fame once his girlfriend Helen (Bianca Lawson, Bones, Save the Last Dance) dumps him. He pens a break-up manual that rises to the top of the best-seller lists, and brings him a large amount of infamy. His cousin Evan Fields (Morris Chestnut, Confidence, Half Past Dead) has a fear of commitment, and uses Quincy's techniques to ditch women after his relationship his the three month mark. His editor Philip Gascon (Peter MacNicol, Recess: School's Out, Baby Geniuses) wants his help in breaking up with the money-grubbing Rita Monroe (Jennifer Esposito, The Master of Disguise, Welcome to Collinwood), who schemes to marry Gascon for his money.

Evan's latest flame, Nicky Callas (Gabrielle Union, Bad Boys II, Cradle 2 the Grave) is nearing that mark. She feels a little bored in the relationship, and decides to shake things up by getting a huge haircut, shearing her long tresses. She hates, it, and tells Evan she "needs to talk." Evan, fearing the worst, decides to break up with her by having Quincy meet her at a bar. Quincy goes, looking for a woman named Nicky with long black hair, and meets Nicky. Breakin' All the Rules then turns into a comedy about mistaken identity. Nicky, who knows exactly who Quincy is, pretends to be someone named Mary. There is a mutual attraction, and Quincy, fearing the worst, lies about what he does. Meanwhile, Rita finds out about Philip's plans to use Quincy, and decides to be proactive. She wants to use Quincy for herself, and mistakes Evan for Quincy. Writer/director Daniel Taplitz (Commandments) handles the mix-ups okay before the story collapses on its own weight.

Breakin' All the Rules would work is people could believe that these five people could stay in the dark for so long, but Taplitz takes things a little too far. His attempts to achieve farce-like proportions seem more contrived than anything else. It's not difficult to see that once Quincy and "Mary" figure things out, there will be a falling out and then a cute reconciliation. It's also a little too obvious how everybody will pair off by the time the credits roll. The Gascon/Monroe subplot is not that interesting, and even less so is a running joke about Helen's pug. Foxx and Union have nice chemistry together, and it is this factor that makes the film just a tad better than its peers.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual material/humor and language.

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