Breakaway (TheByteScene Review)

1 Poorly-written-and-poorly-executed-slap-shot out of 4

Before I begin with the problems this film had, I’d like to take a moment to say that it is single-handedly one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen and while I wouldn’t recommend it, if you are forced to watch it, you won’t want to run out of the theatre screaming for a refund.

Breakaway is the story of the young Sikh male Rajveer Singh, played absolutely terribly by Vinay Virmani (who is new enough in the industry that he doesn’t actually have a proper IMDB page) and his dreams of being a hockey superstar. Of course, his father doesn’t approve of his dreams, especially since he went against Sikh tradition and cut his hair, and instead feels that young Rajveer should focus more on his job at Speedy Singhs, his uncle’s delivery business. The main premise of the film is relatively straightforward, but it’s also quite interesting watching the film’s director and writers absolutely butcher the basic plot by adding in a convoluted marriage subplot (starring Canadian-comedian-superstar Russell Peters ), and several other “distractions” to ruin the movie. Along the way, Rajveer encounters difficulties from his family, falls in love (with a Canadian law student, played by Camille Bell), attempts to make his country take notice of him and his culture and, in a roundabout manner prove everyone ever wrong by becoming a hockey superstar, who wins the coveted Hyundai Cup (which is a real thing, by the way).

The plot is incredibly simple to the point that the writers seem to have thrown in padding along the way, just to make sure the movie has a decent runtime. At one point, the film seemed to be taking a cultural route, showcasing the racism that Rajveer and his team has to endure, all the while juxtaposing the racism displayed by his own culture. I feel that the writers wanted that to go somewhere, but it really doesn’t. Instead, it’s played to comedic effect where the Canadians make fun of the Sikhs, the Sikhs complain about the Canadians and nothing is resolved along the way. Seriously, there’s a point in the film where Rajveer’s father goes on a tangent about ties and things invented by “White men” and, while hilarious, it leads absolutely nowhere.

Therein lies the film’s most glaring flaw: there are scenes that are shot just for comedic effect that go absolutely nowhere. Another example being a restaurant scene early on, where Rajveer and Melissa (Camille Bell’s character) meet in an Indian restaurant and share a meal together. It’s Camille’s first time eating Indian food, so naturally she has to accidentally get an incredibly spicy meal and the film then cuts to the next scene. The problem with the aforementioned scene isn’t that it had no place in the movie ( because it actually didn’t have a place), but that it didn’t go anywhere. One moment the characters are here, and the next they’re somewhere else doing something different. It seems like, at times, the movie and the actors have no idea what they want to be doing, and it shows; Russell Peters’s character being an example.

Peters plays Sonu, the fiance of Rajveer’s sister, who comes to Canada to marry her. His part is very simple to execute and it’s messed up entirely because the audience doesn’t know how to react to Sonu. Apparently Sonu and Rajveer don’t like each other because Sonu wants to run Speedy Singhs, but, even though it shows, the reason doesn’t become apparent until the resolution. Up until that point, it appears that Sonu is acted for no reason and there isn’t any reason to not like him; yes, he’s annoying and selfish, but there isn’t any development to him. It must be mentioned that, if portrayed well, characters such as Sonu can be used very well, but Peters sleeps through his entire performance, choosing instead to make poor jokes, all of which allude to his stand-up routines (unfortunately for the audience, the allusions aren’t funny either).

Though, if one discusses Peters’s unfunny selection, they cannot avoid the absolute trainwreck that lies within the dialogue. The dialogue was absolutely attrocious, containing every cliché, every typical line, every joke, every comment, every remark, and every poorly timed reference that one would expect a movie such as Breakaway to have. The early scenes where Rajveer is trying to woo Melissa are examples, as Rajveer tries every single clichéd line and falls flat each time.

An interesting thing to note, however, is the film’s cinematography; using a blend of traditional Hollywood and Bollywood techniques, the film really is the best of both worlds. It’s even more interesting in that scenes that should be traditionally Western are shot using Eastern techniques and vice-verse. While there are certain exceptions, for the most part, the film is a mix of the two and it’s interesting to watch because the movie makes it incredibly obvious. I didn’t find this intrusive, however, and the cinematography is the film’s strong points. Though, for a sports movie, there’s an amazing lack of sports scenes. Apart from a skating shot to show Rajveer’s inner struggles, which are few and far between, the only real hockey scenes are the beginning and the end sequences. Suffice it to say, this isn’t a traditional sports movie, which, if made as such, would’ve definitely made the experience far more tolerable.

Even more surprising than the cinematography is the selection of actors. The film has a blend of Eastern and Western stars though, for some reason Rob Lowe is in the film and Drake makes an appearance. Not to mention Ludacris, who shows up at the end to, obviously, sing an English-Punjabi song, alongside Indian actor Akshay Kumar. It amazed me because Rob Lowe is actually a central character, he’s not just a cutaway gag character who’s on screen just to collect a pay cheque. What amazed me more was that Lowe really tried his best to give his character depth and emotion; what amazed the most about this film is that Lowe does a surprisingly good job considering what he has to work with.

My biggest problem, however, is that I laughed. I laughed a lot, because (apart from Russell Peters, most of the time) the jokes were funny, the situations were absurd, and the characters were likeable for a long enough period of time that I didn’t grow sick of them. Even Peters’s character, who was very confusing, had a simple, touching scene where he shows that he truly loves his bride-to-be in addition to her family, and her cousin, and that really helped bring the movie together as a journey of dissension and reconciliation. The disappointing part is that, despite these very rare moments, the movie’s plot is all over the place, the dialogue is atrocious, the acting is terrible, and the movie feels like it’s crawling along at random paces, with absolutely no idea what it wants to do.

Though I certainly can’t criticize the movie for knowing where it wants to end up, because it’s obvious from the start of the film that the movie is catering to a very specific niche; specifically, those who saw last year’s Score: A Hockey Musical, and who felt that they’d want to sit through yet another poorly made Canadian hockey film. Oh, I’m very sorry, did you know that this film takes place in Toronto, Canada? You didn’t? Well, guess what? It does.

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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