“The Five-Year Engagement” – Review by Ryan Allen

The Five-Year Engagement Review

By Ryan Allen

Romances have on occasion driven me to leave the movie theater, wondering why I ever went to see those overly mushy, painfully artificial films in the first place. And a lengthy romantic-comedy about a couple struggling to tie the knot is the antithesis of what I like in a movie.  But The Five-Year Engagement gave me a sense of renewed interest; there’s hope yet for what I call a “failed genre”.

The movie effectively mixes humor with heart, and with the help of producer Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad), it adds just enough raunch and quirkiness to excuse the 2 hr. 4 min. runtime.

Director Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets) team up once again to create another hit comedy, this one a bit less profane than Sarah Marshall, but not without its moments (including one hilarious play on the word “peonies”).

Segel plays Tom Solomon, a talented chef working at a high-end restaurant in San Francisco.  Tom lives deferentially to please his girlfriend, Violet, played by Emily Blunt.

As they begin to prepare for their wedding, they meet a few challenges along the way.  When the University of Michigan accepts Violet into their psychology program, she jumps at the opportunity.  Tom submissively agrees to live with her in Michigan, giving up his dream job as a head chef.

Violet thrives in her new environment, brainstorming clever ways to psychoanalyze different aspects of human behavior, and applying them to relationships.  Meanwhile, Tom struggles to acclimate to Michigan life, accepting a low-end job making cheap sandwiches.  He meets Bill (Chris Parnell), a fellow Michiganite totally dominated by the culture.  Bill introduces Tom to knitting sweaters and hunting, hobbies clearly out of Tom’s comfort zone.

What makes this movie a notch better than other romances is that Segel and Blunt seem to have genuine chemistry.  And even though Tom and Violet love each other, that doesn’t mean the two won’t fiercely quarrel at times.

The film is also backed by a wide array of talented comedians: Chris Pratt (Moneyball) plays Tom’s best friend, Alex, a charismatic doof unabashedly quick to speak his mind.  Alison Brie (Scream 4) plays Violet’s sister, Suzie, who constantly belittles Alex until a night of poor decisions leaves her as the mother of his child.

The movie does seem to drag on near the end.  The script should have been tightened up quite a bit, and there were definitely some scenes in the movie that served very little purpose.

Of course, everyone knows how the movie will end.  It’s just a manner of how long it will take to get there.  Tom and Violet really do seem made for each other, which only makes the closing scenes that much more heartwarming.  Luckily, when the film finally reaches an end, it wraps up the story (and the five-year engagement) in a fresh, poignant, and jubilant manner.

 3 out of 4 stars

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