Sports films are notorious for being cliche. It’s all too common for a story set in the world of sports to hit the same predictable plot points and do the bare minimum between, which is why many aren’t fans of the genre. On paper, Jay Karas’ Break Point, the story of an over-the-hill tennis player teaming up with his brother to make one last run at the Open, may sounds like more of the same, but in execution it’s head and shoulders above its peers.
Break Point focuses on two brothers, Jimmy (Jeremy Sisto) and Darren (David Walton), who were once one of the best junior doubles teams in the nation. Around that time Jimmy ditched Darren to play with someone better, and since then their relationship has been strained. The film picks up when Jimmy, now a 35-year-old man child, has been ditched by his younger partner. He turns to Darren, now a substitute teacher, and the two reconnect as they fight their way toward making it into the Open.
You may have noticed that there aren’t too many successful tennis movies around. I would guess that part of the reason the sport has been deemed uncinematic is the fact that it’s played by either one or two people, thus losing much of the team aspect which sports films thrive on. It’s also a really repetitive sport. There’s only so long that you can watch a ball go back and forth. So, with all that in mind, thankfully there really isn’t all that much tennis featured in this movie. Sure, we do get to see a couple of matches, but Karas doesn’t burden us with overlong sequences where he tries to make tennis appear more dramatic than it is. We are shown shots simply so the character’s reactions make sense, and it’s all there to propel the plot forward. Despite what the title and promotion may have you believe, this is a comedy first, reconciliation tale second, and sports movie third.
I’m not sure if writers Sisto and Gene Hong intended for this to be a comedy above all else, but considering that it’s absolutely hilarious, I think that the film definitely falls into that genre. Sisto and Hong prove that they’re immensely talented comedic writers, as the dialogue is both sharp and witty throughout. Honestly, it’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a long time, and I’d also say that it’s one of the funniest sports movies, ever.
Jimmy’s interactions with Barry lead to the most laughs, but there’s quality humor to be found elsewhere, too. Break Point is not like many modern comedies where the plot is clumsily molded to find ways to meet the jokes. Instead, every funny moment fits organically into the story that Sisto and Hong have scripted. When it comes to comedy, Break Point is top-notch.
That being said, the comedic elements don’t detract from the reconciliation aspect of the story. The two brothers are vastly different and their relationship is very strained, yet they still have the sort of bond that only comes from being brothers. Walton and Sisto play up the differences in their characters so well but are still always believable as brothers. Their relationship is the core and the heart of the story, and the chemistry they have on screen coupled with excellent performances from both actors takes this from what could be a pretty good movie into something truly enjoyable.
As good as both Walton and Sisto are though, also worth noting is the performance by the young Joshua Rush. His character Barry provides another layer of humanity to the story, and a large portion of the comic relief. Barry’s journey is nearly as interesting as that of the two leads, and a lot of the credit for that should go to Rush. Much of the weight of the film’s success is firmly on the actor’s shoulders, and his tiny, color-coordinating frame doesn’t collapse under the pressure.
Between the engagingstory, the hilarious writing and great performances from the three main cast members, Break Point is one of the better sports movies that I’ve in recent years. It’s the sort of film that everyone should be able to find something enjoyable in, as it makes its mark through the human aspects of the story rather than the action of the sport. Almost every aspect of this film is excellent and it all comes together in a way that makes Break Point a real smash. (Sorry, I had to.)
Thanks to witty writing and excellent performances, Break Point turns out to be one of the funniest sports comedies that we've seen in years.