D: Jay Karas / 90m
Cast: Jeremy Sisto, David Walton, Amy Smart, J.K. Simmons, Joshua Rush, Adam DeVine, Chris Parnell, Vincent Ventresca, Jenny Wade, Cy Admundson
Jimmy Price (Sisto) is a pro tennis player who’s successfully alienated every doubles partner he’s ever played with. When his latest partner walks out on him, Jimmy tries to find a new one but his past behaviour catches up with him, and he’s turned down by everyone he contacts. Knowing that he has one last chance at taking part in a grand slam tournament, he has no option but to ask his brother, Darren (Walton), who is a substitute teacher, to be his partner. Darren is less than enthusiastic, as when they were younger Jimmy dumped him for another player during a tournament.
Darren eventually comes around to the idea, and he and Jimmy begin to practice together. They’re joined by one of Darren’s pupils, a precocious eleven year old called Barry (Rush) who has attached himself to Darren for the summer break. Supported and encouraged by their veterinarian father, Jack (Simmons), and his assistant Heather (Smart), they get through a qualifying tournament despite Jimmy’s confrontational antics. With one more qualifying match to play, a meet and greet sees Jimmy talking to several of the other pro players, leading Darren to suspect that history is about to repeat itself.
A broad mix of lightweight drama and affable comedy, Break Point is easy-going fare for those times when thinking about a movie isn’t required. It’s amiable and it pretty much does what it says on the tin, leading the viewer through a predictable yet enjoyable story that avoids any lows but equally doesn’t hit the heights either. A bit of a pet project for Sisto – as well as being its star, he’s the co-writer and one of the producers – the movie allows him to give another man-child performance that’s flecked with occasional moments of introspection. Sisto is good in the role but like all the characters, Jimmy is a step up from being one-dimensional, and nothing he does or says will come as a surprise to anyone.
With Sisto getting to play the “fun guy”, it falls to Walton to be the straight man, and while he’s more than up to the task, he has little to do beyond acting peevish or doubtful about his brother’s motives. With the exception of Rush as the cute but borderline annoying Barry, the rest of the cast are sidelined for much of the movie, with Simmons wasted as the brothers’ dad, and Smart roped in for the last third as a romantic partner for Darren. Karas directs ably but routinely, and even the tennis matches remain formulaic in both the way they’re shot and edited, with little in the way of any real excitement. All in all it’s a sweet movie, but not one you’re likely to remember for long.
Rating: 5/10 – while not a bad movie, Break Point is too laid-back for its own good, and it never really gets off the ground; a pleasant enough experience but it’s likely that the average viewer will be left wanting a whole lot more in order to feel rewarded for their time.