The Breaker Upperers

Out Now On-Demand

Jackie van Beek (What We Do in the Shadows) and Madeleine Sami (Sione's Wedding) are two romance cynics running a business breaking up unhappy couples in this New Zealand buddy comedy. Written and directed by van Beek and Sami, the film also features James Rolleston (Boy), Australian comedian Celia Pacquola (TV's Rosehaven), Rima Te Wiata (Housebound) and Cohen Holloway (Hunt for the Wilderpeople).


Directed by



Rating: M Sex, coarse language and drug use

New Zealand

When The Breaker Upperers debuted at Austin’s South by Southwest film festival in March of this year, it was to the kind of uproarious international delight that Kiwi culture so fitfully feeds on - so much so that Variety described writer-director-stars Jackie van Beek and Madeleine Sami “a female version of Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement”.

However I may feel about the use of the “female version” label (hint: mad) this warm reception is well deserved. While Waititi gets an executive producer credit, The Breaker Upperers is a rare and riotous glimpse at what the women of the New Zealand comedy scene are capable of.

The titular breaker upperers are Jen and Mel (van Beek and Sami respectively), best friends and romance cynics who, for a fee, will end their client’s relationships for them - whether that be via a singing telegram, mock pregnancy or even a few faked deaths. Yet even as business is booming, the cracks are beginning to show, both in Jen and Mel’s relationship and the rather flawed ideology on which their careers are based.

Where this all leads will likely not be a surprise to many (personal epiphanies and dance numbers, to give you a hint), yet with a kind of banal surrealism underlying even the more formulaic moments of The Breaker Upperers, van Beek and Sami never let things go stale.

It's not hard to see how it would sell to an international audience, happily perpetuating the (not entirely untrue) myth of a country populated by neurotic yet polite weirdos with maybe lower than average emotional intelligence. Yet even when The Breaker Upperers is at its most quaint, there remains a spark at its core that gives even the too-neat ending an edge.

With the kind of performances that should, by rights, make everyone involved a big rich movie star (a fabulously gormless James Rolleston often threatens to steal the show) and cameos from just about every New Zealand comedian imaginable, The Breaker Upperers is brimming with proof that, given the chance, Aotearoa's female talent have their own stories to tell - and are no less hilarious in doing so.

Variety (USA)


A terrific showcase for the duo and their entire cast, which, besides a pop-up bit from Clement, is curated from a local talent pool that Hollywood has yet to spelunk. After this, it should.

Film School Rejects


The whole thing has great energy and might be one of the funniest films I’ve seen this year (or last).

Keeping Up with NZ


Delivers unexpected laughs and a window into the infamous mid-life crisis. (Bridget Jones)


What sets The Breaker Upperers apart is the simple way they have flipped the classic, but let's be honest, tired, "buddy comedy" on its head. (Graeme Tuckett)


I think The Breaker Upperers is the funniest and most likeable film I've seen this year. Go see it.

NZ Herald (Francesca Rudkin)


Laugh-out-loud funny and at times wonderfully subtle, this ever-so-likable romp confirms something many already knew, Van Beek and Sami can do almost anything.

Listener (Russell Baillie)


An original, inventive, hilarious film, one that sure leaves you wanting more from the Sami-van Beek double act.

Sydney Morning Herald


It's not perfect, but it's a fresh take on stale comedy.

Triple J (Australia)


Madeleine Sami and Jackie Van Beek's chemistry, biting wit, and on point improvisations are genuinely mint.

FilmInk (Australia)


A film that's absolutely worth dating, but is unlikely to be "the one".

The Australian (David Stratton)


It's a small film, but - despite the dubious premise - a frequently hilarious one.

The Guardian (Australia)


The film coasts off the energy and rapport of this affable pair, whose smart-mouthed performances are full of pep and fizz.


Okay, first I don't want to say anything bad about a kiwi film thats just trashy and no good thing to do. BUT...I must say it wasn't for me, there were moments when I felt.. Yes! *fist pumping good* but mostly I was just not that impressed with it. Its crass and as a whole i'm not usually that offended but for me it cheapened the film somehow I was somehow expecting more and for me at least it didn't deliver. The two main characters really annoyed me. I say go KIWI FILM MAKING!!!....but lets put it this way I will not be buying the DVD

good but not great

had high hopes and it started out well but over excessive bad language spoilt it ! (boy & wilderpeople funny fils wothout going "potty-mouth" !)

Of course it’s offensive and funny

Of course some people find this offensive, too much and it is. AND its very funny and fun. Cringeworthy at times but clever, out there and caring. The two ladies laid it on the line and most of the time it rocks. The portrayal of the rugby dude and his fierce girl and her crew is new nealand classic! If you are easily offended give it a miss if you want a good time with some outrageous stuff go see it!




Very disappointing.

The trailer looked funny, but the film rarely is. It seems like NZ reviewers feel like it's their patriotic duty to talk up NZ films, which isn't always justified. The film makes women, the lesbian character and the police look like creeps (which we don't need in this age of sexual harassment). "Flat" and/or obvious acting and writing. Too much crude, crass, banal sexual humour. In my session, only men laughed at the "jokes" on women's illnesses and bodies -- but even some men gasped in horror as well. Also kind of racist. Overall cringy and kind of icky. The writers and actors could do better.





It was funny in some bits but it was soooo cringe!! I felt like it would have been better with younger women as the main actors. Some of the comments in the film were like taking NZ sayings and making them lame as hell. felt like i should have watched it at home and not paid money to go watch it in the movies.


A very amusing NZ comedy showcase... I'm mid-fifties, probably not the target audience, but laughed all the way through it. Some great scenes that will stay with me! Well done ladies!!!

Kiwi Comedy Hit for 2018!

This film is full of Kiwi comedic stars and with comedy of course, timing is everything! The Breaker Upperers nailed it! The pace is fast and furious as Jen and Mel set out on their new business venture to break up unhappy couples. My favourites: Outstanding performance by newcomer Ana Scotney who plays Sepa - she'll be one to watch in the near future and, the droll Angella Dravid is, as usual, sublime. Madeline Sami and Jackie Van Beek have written, performed in and directed, this Kiwi comedy and it is a job well done. Go see it !