THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT
THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT (2012)
Movie Review by Kelly Laymon
As you may gather from the title, THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT is about trying to make it to the altar, and the complications along the way. The film opens with a cute proposal by Tom (Jason Segel) and deals with the early stages of planning a wedding with his fiancée, Violet (Emily Blunt). However, for this San Francisco couple, she’s hoping for a research position at the nearby University of California, Berkeley. She doesn’t get in, but she IS offered an academic research position at the University of Michigan. So, they make a decision to postpone the wedding and move to Michigan for two years so she can follow her dream. Once they get there, sous chef Segel has a hard time finding work and ends up at a weird little sandwich shop where the owner at least appreciates his talent.
Things deteriorate from there. Segel buddies up to another faculty husband, played by former SNL-er and semi-annoying current comedy staple, Chris Parnell. He introduces Segel to outdoor activities such as hunting, which leads to an unnecessary physical comedy gag involving a cross-bow and Blunt’s leg. And on her end, the time in Michigan includes a skeevy older professor who has his sights on her.
Jason Segel, who again co-wrote the script with Nick Stoller (FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (2008), THE MUPPETS (2011)), and Emily Blunt make a believable couple. They don’t seem like two stars who have been plunked down together for the sake of demographics and marketing. Segel’s Tom is like another version of FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL’s Peter Bretter, except perhaps less stable and more self-destructive. But, hey, Segel’s good at that kind of role: the troubled yet sweet and funny Everyman. And, as with FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, the script follows a less-than-Hollywood-cookie-cutter format, which I appreciate. I’d like to stop every screenwriting class in the world from reading that horrible Syd Field guy.
It’s worth noting that Segel and Blunt have worked together in the past. They co-starred in GULLIVER’S TRAVELS (2010) and she had a very memorable cameo in THE MUPPETS, in which she reprised her character from THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006). I attended a 12:01am showing of that one, on opening morning, and her cameo received the second-biggest reaction of the film. But, back to the film at hand…having a female lead who is known for more dramatic work was a nice change of pace, since Blunt hasn’t been in tons of romantic comedies, pratfalling over Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey, etc..
Although the two stars are very likable, funny, and real, some of the best energy comes from the supporting players. Chris Pratt (PARKS & RECREATION, currently on NBC) plays Segel’s goofy buddy and co-worker, who ends up with the job he walks away from for Michigan. Pratt’s character also hooks up with, impregnates, and marries Blunt’s sister, played by Allison Brie. As a huge COMMUNITY (currently on NBC) fan, I shocked even myself when it took me half of the film to recognize Brie. I just thought it was some new unknown Brit!
Blunt’s research group features the wonderful Mindy Kaling (THE OFFICE, also currently on NBC). Kaling repeatedly elevates the catty, sarcastic, almost-Valley Girl attitude, and way of speaking, to an art form. She almost always makes me laugh out loud.
All in all, this is a solid FOUR KNIFE film. It’s enjoyable and free of just about all annoying romantic comedy clichés. The dialogue is very realistic and some of the throw-away lines are the true highlights. I noticed a lot of criticism online about its “excessive” length. This complaint has been heavily thrown at most films produced by Judd Apatow for the past few years, but I have yet to agree with any of those accusations. THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT never dragged for me. The characters are likable and the dialogue is funny, so I don’t mind spending two or more hours with them.
© Copyright 2012 by Kelly Laymon