A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that PG-rated 2016 romantic comedy The Matchbreaker features a confident but romantically stifled young man hired to break up a girl's relationship by her disapproving parents. His own standards for female perfection are based on his love for the cute girl who left town years before but has returned and is now involved with someone else. The movie opened four months after the murder of its lead actress, Christina Grimmie, a singer who gained attention as a contestant on television's singing competition The Voice.
What's the story?
Ethan (Wesley Elder) is THE MATCHBREAKER, a hyper-critical 20-something who can see incompatibility a mile away. In a flash he can whip up a list of "seven reasons to dump her," including knuckle-cracking and loving fast food. When parents of a girl involved with a less-than-ideal guy hire him to break up the relationship, his success leads to more work. Eventually he's hired by a mother seeking to pry her daughter away from a tall and handsome accountant. Ethan discovers the girl, Emily (Christina Grimmie), is the classmate he'd fallen in love with when he was 8. Despite his critical eye, Ethan is a hopeless sap whose favorite romantic movie is Sleepless in Seattle, so it's no wonder that he had idealized Emily for the years since her departure and that all subsequent romantic prospects paled in comparison. When he cultivates a new relationship with her for the purpose of showing her how ill-suited she is for her boyfriend, Ethan is racked with guilt for deceiving her but also beset with the conflict caused by his own feelings for her. He's also hired to break up the goofy son (Olan Rogers) of wealthy parents from his equally goofy catering server girlfriend. After breaking them up, Ethan eventually recognizes that they are perfect for each other in their quirkiness and helps get them back together.
Is it any good?
This movie is a charming if imperfect amusement. The Matchbreaker's acumen as a social satire about self-absorbed 20-somethings with unrealistic expectations about romantic partners helps neutralize some over-the-top moments and uneven acting and directorial choices. Co-writer-director Caleb Vetter strains to provide oddball secondary characters; for example, a landlord who constantly drops by and refers to his wife's face-waxing, and an awkward guy who falls for a girl because they both have iguanas. Elder is perfect as the overly-analytical and emotionally-distant Ethan and he tosses off clever dialogue believably. Grimmie does a fine job of conveying intelligence and skepticism, plus her singing performances are moving and beautiful. It is difficult to watch and not mourn the career she might have had.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ethics of parents paying someone to break up their children's romantic relationships like they do in The Matchbreaker. Should it be up to the kids to learn the hard way about who might be a suitable romantic match? Why or why not?
Every one of us has flaws. Why is it important to accept imperfections in those we love?
How is this movie a typical romcom? In what ways is it different?
- In theaters: October 7, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2017
- Cast: Wesley Elder, Christina Grimmie, Olan Rogers
- Director: Caleb Vetter
- Studio: Stadium Media
- Genre: Romance
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: for mild thematic elements and brief language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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