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    Break Point (2015): Movie Review

    “A witty and funny, yet formulaic and forgettable, tennis sports comedy.”  

    Two estranged brothers reunite on the tennis court in Break Point. Directed by Jay Karas, this sports comedy is a story of familial reconciliations and one’s redemption from past mistakes.

    Co-writer Jeremy Sisto plays Jimmy Price, a 35-year-old tennis badass. Hot-tempered and aggressive, he has a nasty habit of alienating his partners. He was once a teenage champion who went pro but things turned sour after that. So when he decides to give one last shot at the upcoming Open, no one is interested to pair up with him. Apparently having no choice, he turns to his younger brother whom he has not spoken to in many years.

    Like Jimmy, Darren (David Walton) is also a tennis fan but dreams of greater prestige had been given up since his brother abandoned him for a better pro. He has been a substitute teacher for seven years and in his spare hours, he frequents the local court and hits the tennis ball by himself. Unfortunately, he has just been dumped, in time for a surprise visit from his brother.

    Darren agrees to be Jimmy’s partner only if he stops drinking and gets serious with their training. During their practice and bonding time together, some people lend their support. Friendless local boy Barry (Joshua Rush), who is Darren’s student and who has Pinocchio-meet-Katy-Perry fashion sense, serves as the ball boy. Their veterinarian father, Jack (J.K. Simmons), also comes along, as well as his attractive nurse Heather (Amy Smart) who has been Darren’s crush since they were kids. With everything geared up, the brothers vie for pre-qualifying tournaments for the Open. 

    Break Point is a modest, easygoing and mild-mannered production. It does not have the hunger and intensity typical of sports films. It’s not even like the recent HBO’s tennis comedy 7 Days in Hell. It is simply light, uncomplicated and sometimes very funny. Sadly, it is very predictable and it nicely fits any standard formulas on healing old wounds and redemption stories. Like any sports film, it has that conventional getting in shape montage, underdog-to-heroes arc and supportive family elements. It does not reinvent and some subplots are unnecessary like Darren finding love and the whole Barry thing.

    Apparently, the film is more interested in the brothers’ story than the actual sport itself. No wonder the tennis game plays are lamely executed, lacking any sense of excitement and thrilling high. Both Sisto and Walton are believable as tennis players as their forehands, backhands and serves are strong and confident. Yet, the frames simply do not create the visual illusion of being in actual Open tennis matches.

    Still, the two lead actors are able to command interest in the face of thinly-drawn material. They have natural gift for comic timing and they flawlessly throw lines with spunk and wit. Sisto’s Jimmy is an obnoxious character one can’t help but love in spite of his self-destructiveness. With his serious, dolt face, Walton’s Darren balances Jimmy’s roughness with his bland charisma. Rush is also a sweet and sympathetic interlude in this very manly film. 

    Break Point fails to break sports comedy conventions. It is generic and unsurprising. Yet, with Sisto’s and Walton’s sharp comic chemistry and solid moments of interplay, it is an engrossingly funny film all throughout. 

    Production Company: Broad Green Pictures 
    Cast: Jeremy Sisto, David Walton, Joshua Rush, J.K. Simmons, Amy Smart, Adam DeVine, Chris Parnell, Vincent Ventresca, Cy Amundson, Jenny Wade, Kate Flannery, Jared Ward, Allison Ochmanek 
    Director: Jay Karas 
    Screenwriters: Gene Hong, Jeremy Sisto 
    Producers: Gabriel Hammond, Jeremy Sisto, Devin Adair 
    Executive producer: Daniel Hammond 
    Director of photography: James Frohna 
    Production designer: Daniel Butts 
    Music: Timothy Anderson 
    Costume designer: Kim H. Ngo 
    Editor: Brad Wilhite


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