Break Point Review
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Since its origin on the grass courts of Birmingham in the 19th century, tennis has generally been seen as a refined and respectable sport, with well-behaved fans watching the back-and-forth rally between well-mannered players, who politely shake hands at the end of their match. But there’s nothing refined about the tennis comedy Break Point.

Break Point finds former pro doubles player Jimmy Price (Jeremy Sisto) facing the end of his career. He’s just lost yet another partner, and everyone on his contact list seems to think that he’s several years past his prime. Determined to make one last run at a big pro tournament, he asks his newly-single younger brother, Darren (David Walton), to play with him. In order to make the partnership work, though, Darren will have to learn to trust his brother again, and Jimmy will have to start acting like he actually wants to win.

Irreverently amusing and filled with good-natured family dysfunction, Break Point isn’t the same old against-all-odds inspirational sports movie. Sure, it follows a couple of underdogs in their unlikely run at a pro tournament, but there’s nothing serious—nor even especially inspiring—about their quest.

Instead, the film focuses more on the characters and their strained relationships—on the sloppy, reckless brother who’s let go of everything but his pride and the uptight, unhappy brother who’s harboring some long-held hurts. And while the story itself doesn’t offer a whole lot of surprises, the characters give the film its unapologetically uncivilized appeal and its immature but sometimes laugh-out-loud comedy.

Though Oscar winner J. K. Simmons is shamefully underused as the brothers’ wise but supportive dad, Sisto is often obnoxiously entertaining as the ill-mannered man-child who refuses to accept that, at 35, he may need to look for a new career. Loud and crude and insulting, he’s like an overweight, washed-up John McEnroe—and he’d be difficult to watch if it weren’t for Walton’s stiff, straight-laced Darren. The two balance each other well, and their glaring differences give the film plenty of comic tension.

Really, though, it’s the cast’s youngest member who steals the film. Darren’s former student, eleven-year-old Barry (Joshua Rush), is totally nerdy and lacking in tact—and he clearly has nothing better to do with his summer than spend it on the tennis court with a couple of bickering, foul-mouthed brothers. Though his outrageous wardrobe alone will keep audiences laughing, his innocence and wide-eyed enthusiasm give the film a degree of awkward charm.

Break Point may not tell the most original story, but the lovably dysfunctional characters bring plenty of unexpected laughs. If your tennis-playing style includes racquet-throwing and judge-bribing, this is the tennis movie for you.

Ed. Note: Break Point is currently showing in select theaters. You can also view it on demand through streaming services like Amazon Instant Video.

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