Review: The Five-Year Engagement
PLOT: Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are the perfect couple. After getting engaged, Violet is offered a position at the University of Michigan, and Tom insists on turning down a prestigious chefs job in order to support her dream. Once they arrive in Michigan, Tom has a hard time adjusting, and their pending nuptials keep getting pushed further and further away.
REVIEW: Im of the group of people that absolutely adores the majority of Judd Apatows films. They tend to be chockfull of people that I like, and- even better, they never pander, and often have an undercurrent of genuine emotion running through them. THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT is no exception to this rule- and while its maybe not quite in the same league as BRIDESMAIDS (second only to FORTY YEAR OLD VIRGIN in the Apatow film canon- as far as Im concerned), its nonetheless a pretty perfect comedy charting the ups and downs that arrive in a relationship, even when the two people are perfectly suited to each other.
At 124 minutes (maybe a shade long), Tom and Violets relationship is given lots of time to breathe thanks to the un-harried pace. Segel and Blunt make an ideal onscreen couple, with both being super-likable. Segels character here is a bit more grown-up than the guy he played in FORGETING SARAH MARSHALL, and the contrast between the early scenes where Segel is a driven sous-chef, to the scenes in Michigan where he lazes around the house in a funk, is well defined. Segel plays it in a way that doesnt make the transition seem predictable, and even at his worst, its easy to see why Blunt would stick by him- to the point that she shrugs off his new deer hunting hobby and rockin handlebar moustache.
Whats really refreshing is that as the relationship starts the falter, its made clear that both parties are equally responsible. Its not a case where Segel just has to grow up- as hes already a fairly together guy, nor is it a case of Blunt being forced to choose between love and a career- as she makes it clear early on that shes willing to drop the job in order to keep them together. Rather, THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT shows how the resentment gradually builds up between the two and starts to ruin their initially perfect pairing.
Dont worry though- this isnt BLUE VALENTINE. Like director Nicholas Stollers last two films, FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, and GET HIM TO THE GREEK, THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT is damn funny. Blunts a natural for Apatows brand of humor, just like Kristen Wiig or Kristen Bell. She more than holds her own opposite Segel, and probably has the funniest scene in the film with the great Alison Brie (COMMUNITY) who plays her sister (and sports an English accent that makes her even hotter than usual)- when they have a very R-rated conversation as Cookie Monster and Elmo. This scenes a classic.
The rest of the supporting cast shines as well, with PARKS & RECREATIONs Chris Pratt playing Segels best buddy (who memorably croons a song en espagnol), and the great Chris Parnell showing up as Segels fellow faculty-husband. Rhys Ifans, soon to be seen as The Lizard in AMAZING SPIDERMAN also has a gem of a role as Blunt possibly amorous supervisor, while THE OFFICEs Mindy Kaling and THINK LIKE A MANs Kevin Hart show up as two of her funnier colleagues. Im really only scratching the surface here regarding the supporting players, as there are tons more who give hysterically good performances, including ANIMAL KINGDOMs Jacki Weaver, Dakota Johnson, and the great Brian Posehn.
I really loved THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT, and I hope people get out and support it this weekend- as it deserves to be another Apatow sleeper (and is actually a good second option next weekend if AVENGERS happens to be sold out). Its a lot of fun, and even tugs a heartstring or two.