THE BREAKER UPPERERS – Another Awesome NZ Comedy

Kernel Emma reviews the opening night film of the just finished 2018 Sydney Film Festival, THE BREAKER UPPERERS. A New Zealand comedy given the stamp of approval from Taika Waititi, who is also the Executive Producer on the film. It was much loved at the festival and I am sure it will be the most popular “girl’s night out” film of 2018 when it releases in cinemas July 26th from Madman Films. The trailer looks hilarious and can’t wait to see it myself. It runs for 90mins and looks like what will eventually be an M Rated movie. Enjoy our resident Kiwi, Emma’s thoughts………all the best………Salty.


New Zealand is paving the way for great, down to earth comedy and THE BREAKER UPPERERS is no exception. After WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE, it’s hard to say no to a film with Taika Waititi’s name in the credits. But this film is all about the women – and it’s packed with the hilariously authentic, self-deprecating Kiwi humour that international audiences are growing to love. Straight from the heart of New Zealand, THE BREAKER UPPERERS is fun, original and guaranteed to have viewers laughing from start to finish.


The Breaker Upperers Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek image
Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek



The premise is simple: Mel and Jen (Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek) help liberate people from dysfunctional relationships. Bound by a 15-year-long platonic friendship, the two feisty women are crafty, endearing and definitely a little bit morally compromised.

After finding out they’d been sharing the same two-timing lover, Mel and Jen are pretty cynical about love. So they’ll stop at nothing to help unhappy lovers get rid of their other halves. Disguised as everything from cops to country singers, the uncoupling business partners certainly go to great lengths to earn their cash. From faked deaths to surprise pregnancies and infidelity, every breakup comes with its own ingenious story. The rules? No follow ups, no friendships with clients – and absolutely no relationships.

Unsurprisingly, things become complicated when Mel befriends recently ‘widowed’ former client Anna (Celia Pacquola), who is down and out and desperately in need of a friend. Further complications arise when Mel develops feelings for 17-year-old client Jordan (James Rolleston) whose fierce girlfriend and pack of friends prove difficult to ‘get rid of’. With a love triangle, an unusual friendship, a series of unravelling lies and a business to run, the ladies’ lives spiral out of control and the result is ridiculous enough to form fantastic comedy.


The Breaker Upperers Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek image
Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek



Move over Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (who makes a brief appearance in the film in an awkward sex scene), the ladies are bringing the laughs. Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek, who also co-wrote and directed the film, bring so much energy and fun to THE BREAKER UPPERERS it’s impossible to stop watching. The light-hearted comedy has wide appeal – a testament to the talented, largely female cast. Madeleine and Jackie clearly work well together, and their hilarious friendship is apparent both on and off the screen.

Beyond the leading ladies, there are some excellent performances by other supporting actors. A particular favourite of mine was Jordan’s tough, overbearing girlfriend, Sepa (Ana Scotney), and her group of friends – who will likely be loved by local audiences.


The Breaker Upperers Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek image
Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek



There are only a handful of comedies I’ve actually enjoyed. THE BREAKER UPPERERS had me crying with laughter. Whether it’s because I’m a woman, a Kiwi or someone who shares a little bit of the leads’ nihilism, I’m not sure. But the film definitely struck a chord. From the pink RTDs (ready-to-drink spirits) spilled on bed sheets to bad karaoke and awkward dates, THE BREAKER UPPERERS felt just that little bit too close to my teenage years not to find uncomfortably hilarious. The not-so-subtle nods to life growing up in New Zealand are equally ridiculous and relatable, providing plenty of laughs for all kinds of audiences.

Never too complicated or exceptionally witty, THE BREAKER UPPERERS is gutsy, cheeky and very easy to watch. The plot is pretty simple, and the best moments are found in the casual, cringe-worthy conversations.


Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek are here to stay. So too is THE BREAKER UPPERERS, which has already been picked up for theatrical release by Madman. Unlikely to offend or cause too much of a stir, THE BREAKER UPPERERS is instead a super fun comedy with super likeable leads.





Kernel Emma is documentary mad and also loves foreign and  films ! She is Salty’s honorary NooooZealanderrrr writer, but she hides out in Sydney saying sex, fush and chups to everyone’s amusement.

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.