Review: The Five-Year Engagement

— by ADAM DALE —

Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) have only known each other for a year. After meeting at a New Year’s Eve party, they just seemed to click and now he wants to propose. After she accepts, everything seems great. Tom is a sous chef at an upscale San Francisco restaurant, while Violet is awaiting acceptance to a local universities psychology program.

When Violet is accepted at a university in Michigan, the couple has a dilemma: Does she give up her dreams or does he? They decide to give it a go in Michigan and Tom quits his restaurant thinking it will be easy to find a suitable replacement job for the two years they will be there for her program.

Problems progress as Tom ends up working in a sandwich shop due to lack of available high-end restaurant jobs in the small town. He begins to become depressed and resents being in Michigan. On the other hand, Violet loves her new job and so does the head of her department, Winton Childs (Rhys Ifans), who offers to extend her program and keep her on for another two years. This doesn’t sit well with Tom, who descends into a primal state. He stops shaving and becomes oddly obsessed with hunting deer. Things aren’t looking great for the couple as they have to postpone and change their wedding plans once again. Will they survive this hard times and will the circumstances ever be right for them to get married?

There is a lot more going on than just that in “The Five-Year Engagement,” but let’s start off with the basics. The film is directed by Nicholas Stoller (“Get Him to the Greek) and produced by Judd Apatow, so you know that it will have that patented R-rated humor. The writing is clever and the film is not too simplistic. The two leads are funny, likeable and complicated. They play very well off each other and both are at their prime in this film, but that isn’t what makes the movie enjoyable — it is the massive amount of talent and comedy coming from the many supporting characters. There are some cliché moments and situations you don’t truly believe will end in heartbreak, but there are also some shocking moments that splash some life back into the movie.

Some of the best moments in the film come when Tom’s best friend and co-worker, Alex (Chris Pratt), and Violet’s younger sister, Suzie (Alison Brie), are together onscreen. They get involved early on in the film and although Alex is a womanizing moron and Suzie is disgusted by him, their connection sticks through bizarre and unfortunate circumstances. Pratt is a scene stealer and gets a major joke in nearly every scene he’s in. The rest of the ample supporting cast of characters comes from Violet’s co-workers in the psychology department, including Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling and Randall Park, all of whom are brilliant in their small roles. Segel on the other hand gets to play off of his weird co-workers and new friends who are equally as funny with just a hint of creepy including Brian Posehn, Chris Parnell, Lauren Weedman and many more. It is this cast as a whole that helps keep this comedy moving and the story from dragging.

This film has many hilarious moments, but maybe too many side-stepping gags that take the focus off the main point of the film and maybe added too much to its running time (two hours and four minutes). I felt like a few of these not as important events could have been saved for the deleted scenes on the DVD. Another complaint I have is that half of the funniest jokes from the trailer were not in the final cut of the film. I know this happens all of the time, but as soon as the moment ended I found myself thinking back at all the scenes I was waiting to see and never did. Needless to say, the film shouldn’t have needed to be longer than an hour and forty-five minutes.

As a whole, the film is pretty darn funny. It is full of many over-the-top scenes and jokes that one has come to expect from anything Apatow is involved with. Segel and Blunt — along with a stellar cast — did amazing jobs with the jokes they were given, but lacked a bit when it came to the more dramatic moments in the film. So fans of R-rated comedies should enjoy most of this movie, but might find themselves checking their watches near the end.

“The Five-Year Engagement” is in theaters now and is rated R for; sexual content and language.

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