The Breaker Upperers: The funniest film you’ll see all year
Jackie Van Beek10
Matthew Turner | On 15, Feb 2019
Director: Jackie van Beek, Madeleine Sami
Cast: Jackie van Beek, Madeleine Sami, Celia Pacquola, James Rolleston, Ana Scotney
Watch The Breaker Upperers online in the UK: Netflix UK
This hilarious comedy comes courtesy of writer-director-stars Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami, both of whom have previously collaborated with Taika Waititi (What We Do In The Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok), who serves as executive producer. Previously unknown outside of their native New Zealand, van Beek and Sami are clearly a comic force to be reckoned with, as this is easily the funniest film you’ll see all year.
Van Beek and Sami play 30-something best friends Jen and Mel, who run a business specialising in breaking up couples when one of the parties is too chicken to do it themselves. Promising a bespoke service, the pair offer a variety of faked scenarios, including pregnancies, kidnapping and death, as well as the occasional serenade. However, their friendship becomes increasingly strained when Mel falls for handsome-but-dim 17 year-old Jordan (Boy star James Rolleston, all grown up) and also starts to feel guilty about their business, after befriending heartbroken Anna (Celia Pacquola), whose husband used their service to fake his death.
Van Beek and Sami are a joy to watch. They both have impeccable comic timing and bounce off each other brilliantly, ensuring that every scene delivers a big laugh. Rolleston is delightfully deadpan as Jordan, while Rima Te Wiata is hilarious as Jackie’s over-sexed mother, Shona, and fellow Taika Waititi collaborator Jemaine Clement contributes a brief, but very funny cameo as one of Jen’s Tinder hook-ups.
As writer-directors, van Beek and Sami have a terrific sense of comic rhythm, packing each scene with winning sight gags, side-splitting physical comedy and laugh-out-loud one-liners. They also orchestrate a number of screamingly funny set-pieces, including an impromptu strip-show at a cop shop, a hallucinated Celine Dion video and a public argument about whether or not Jordan’s a minor.
The film is further heightened by whip-smart editing from Tom Eagles (editor of Hunt for the Wilderpeople), who delivers both a fabulous montage sequence showcasing Jen and Mel’s working methods and some inspired flashback sequences, particularly during the story of how they came to be friends in the first place.
To that end, the film is also a joyful celebration of female friendship, with the sharply observed relationship between Jen and Mel forming the beating heart of the story. Given their off-the-scale comic chemistry, it’s somewhat hard to believe that van Beek and Sami aren’t an established comic duo, let alone that The Breaker Upperers marks their first collaboration. Here’s hoping it’s the first of many.
The Breaker Upperers is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.