The Five Year Engagement is the new film from Nicholas Stoller who previously directed both Forgetting Sarah Marshall and it’s quasi-sequel Get Him To The Greek. Neither of which I particularly enjoyed that much, but I genuinely enjoyed The Five-Year Engagement. As usual, it was created not by just Stoller, but his longtime creative partner, Jason Segel, who just so happens to be the film’s lead! Imagine that!
Segal’s character, Tom, has just proposed to his girlfriend Violet, (Emily Blunt) which starts a wave of events that continuously post-pone their wedding. Firstly, at Tom and Violet’s engagement party, Tom’s Best Man (Chris Pratt) ends up knockin’ boots with Violet’s sister (Alison Brie, rocking a questionable British accent). She gets pregnant, the two get married, and fast track their wedding, thus creating the first delay. Soon after, Violet gets accepted to M.I.T. for Psychology, so Tom quits his well paying job as a Chef and the two move from their home in San Francisco, to Michigan. Delay number two!
The michigan portion of the film, or I guess the entire second act, takes up the largest chunk of time. Tom becomes miserable because he can’t find a decent job and settles at a sandwich shop, while Violet spends all of her time with her colleagues in the Psychology Department, all played by Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, and a remarkably awesome Rhys Ifans (but really, when he’s cast, when is he NOT awesome?). Meanwhile, Tom befriends a dude named Tarquin, played by Brian Posehn, who works at the sandwich shop with him, and a stay at home dad (Chris Parnell) who is obsessed with hunting and knitting his own sweaters (very very poorly, might I add). All of this leads to an awkwardly hilarious mid-life crisis that Tom goes through, where he grows giant mutton chops and covers his and Violet’s house in deer fur. I lovingly called this transition his “Tom Jane phase”. Thing’s never really get better between the two and they eventually decide to call it quits. Delay number three! It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out how the film ends, but needless the say when they DO get married, it was pretty cute.
The screenplay was co-written by Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel and that alone made the dialogue a bit more natural than other romantic comedies. Segel is a dude that I really like. From his days on Freaks And Geeks to his current days of numerous Apatow projects, toThe Muppets and How I Met Your Mother, he’s pretty much full of gold, in my eyes. My biggest complaint with The Five Year Engagement, however, was that the film had a real knack of masking serious moments with humor. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by comedies like 50/50 and Jeff, Who Lives At Home, that balance the line between comedy and drama so well, but it got a tad annoying when something serious would happen, and they’d insert a dick joke or something to take the emotional weight off of the situation. But, I get it. It’s a rom-com date flick and they weren’t looking to bum out the audience with this one. Whatevs!
Despite my slight annoyances with the screenplay, The Five-Year Engagement is a decent film, and a rare romantic comedy that is worth your time. It’s got a great cast, packed with tons of familiar faces, including Brian Posehn who nearly stole the show for me with his usual off-beat deadpan banter, and it isn’t overloaded with an insane amount of sappiness.
I give The Five-Year Engagement 3.5 homemade sweaters out of 5:
By Richard Pepper