Jason Segel, left, and Emily Blunt in a scene from "The Five-Year Engagement." / Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures
‘The Five-Year Engagement’
Two stars (out of four)
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Two stars (out of four)
You don’t have to be a marriage counselor to know that a five-year engagement is too long.
Similarly, you don’t have to be a movie expert to know that “The Five-Year Engagement” is too long. Some things you can just tell.
Nicholas Stoller directs and re-teams with Jason Segel on the script — the pair worked together on the superior “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” In another Judd Apatow production, they try to mine a similar vein — call it the profane romantic comedy. But here, as with some of Apatow’s other productions, the story drags on too long, and it’s not as inspired to begin with. Segel stars as Tom, half of the couple who can’t seal the deal, and Emily Blunt plays Violet, his fiancee. Segel is a warm-and-fuzzy presence in everything he’s in, and Blunt is delightful. Some bits are funny, some vulgar, some sweet.
But come on. Make an honest woman of her already.
Tom and Violet live in San Francisco, where he is a sous chef in a nice restaurant. They are a couple from the first time we see them; on the anniversary of their nowhere-but-in-movies adorable initial meeting on New Year’s Eve a year before — he was dressed as a pink bunny and she as Princess Diana — Tom proposes and Violet accepts. So far so good; five minutes in and we have an accepted offer.
And then life intrudes. At the party announcing their engagement, Tom’s best friend Alex (Chris Pratt) has a one-night stand with Violet’s sister, Suzie (Alison Brie). She gets pregnant, they get married and we have our first obstacle to Tom and Violet’s nuptials. There will be many more.
The biggest occurs when Violet is accepted at graduate school at the University of Michigan, which will push back the wedding at least two more years. Despite working at the job he loves, Tom leaves behind the possibility of running his own kitchen and heads off to Ann Arbor with Violet. He finds work in a sandwich shop. She finds contentment in her studies, and a mentor of sorts in Winton Childs (Rhys Ifans), one of her professors. Hmm.
No matter how Stoller and Segel try to disguise it, this is still a romantic comedy, and thus must follow the established rules . So the relationship must wax and wane, with predictable developments delaying the wedding even further.
It’s never clear why they can’t just go ahead and get married; presumably Tom could be just as miserable in Michigan with a wedding band on his finger. It would have addressed at least some of the problems that come up. Plus, it would have made the movie shorter — a win-win.
You don't have to be a marriage counselor to know that a five-year engagement is too long. Similarly, you don't have to be a movie expert to know that 'The Five-Year Engagement' is too long. Some
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