Breakin’ All the Rules

After being dumped by his girlfriend, magazine editor Quincy Watson (Foxx) has fallen into a pit of depression. Writing his way out of his funk, Quincy comes up with a self-help book for men detailing easy steps to take when breaking up with women. The book becomes an instant smash, but trouble soon finds its way to Quincy’s door when a case of mistaken identity leads his best friend’s girlfriend (Gabrielle Union, “Bad Boys 2“) into his arms, testing the effectiveness of his dating rules.

As insignificant and wafer thin as they make ‘em, “Breakin’ All the Rules” would be a lot more offensive if it didn’t seem like a UPN pilot that just won a token theatrical release due to a lost poker wager. What’s really excruciating about the film is Foxx, who once had the aura of a great comedian, but has since stumbled into a much more appealing dramatic career (“Ali“) these days that he couldn’t even buy a laugh anymore. Foxx staggers his way through this dud, not helped in the least bit by intensely unfunny co-stars Gabrielle Union, unappealing Morris Chestnut, and Peter MacNicol (“Ally McBeal“), who takes it upon himself to make this picture absolutely excruciating at times.

I give writer/director Daniel Taplitz (who made the sweet, well crafted 1997 film, “Commandments”) credit for his restraint in frosty language (this is a rare PG-13 urban-themed enterprise), unnecessary dramatics, and casting Foxx as an intelligent character. But the rest of the film features softball gags with an alcoholic dog, a shamelessly self-promoting soundtrack and random editing to get in and out of scenes, leaving parts of this film relatively indecipherable. “Breakin’” is a mess, and even worse, a completely unenlightening one too.

If you can believe this, the summation of ultimate romantic devotion in “Breakin’” is this: are you willing to bite through your own skinr Not, “You complete me.” Not, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Now it’s, “Please bite through your hand.” We’ve finally come down to the level of self-mutilation to express feelings, cruelly mistaking pain for passion. Rest assured, there’s little to mistake in “Breakin’ All the Rules.” It’s almost always a pain.

Rating: D