The Five-Year Engagement
It’s Never-Ending

It looks like Jason Segel has finally forgotten Sarah Marshall.  The actor and that movie’s director Nicholas Stoller now reunite for another Judd Apatow-produced (read: R-rated) romantic comedy.  In The Five-Year Engagement, Segel, as chef Tom Solomon, is not trying to forget an ex-girlfriend, but rather to get his current squeeze to marry him.  It’s a good goal, but even though she is immediately on board with the idea, the actual accomplishment of that goal proves to be somewhat complicated.  More complicated than it should be, really.

It has been a year since Tom and Emily Blunt’s Violet Barnes first met at a costume party and Tom is now ready to pop the question.  The proposal process doesn’t go as smoothly as he might have liked, but it is nothing compared to the complications that arise as the couple try to plan their wedding day.  When Violet is accepted into a post-doctorate program at the University of Michigan, their special day gets pushed back as they try to adjust to their new life across the country.  This is especially stressful for Tom, whose struggles to find a place for himself in the new environment are further emphasized by the fact that, while this is going on, his best friend back home in San Francisco has seemingly taken over the life that Tom was planning on having.

Jason Segel as Tom in Five-Year EngagementThe movie starts off well and ends well, but there are a couple of problems with just about everything in between; namely, it’s long and not funny.  The length (124 minutes) is not too surprising, considering this is a Judd Apatow production and they tend to run longer than the average comedy.  Usually, the reason those movies run long is not because there are extra scenes, but rather it’s that the actors in those scenes are allowed to improvise their way through them, forcing the editor to wait until all of the funny bits have been included before he transitions into the next scene.  Outside of a fantastic, Sesame Street-themed exchange between Blunt and co-star Alison Brie, improvisation doesn’t seem to be overused in The Five-Year Engagement, but in this case, it is just that there are too many scenes that do little to add anything in the way of either plot or entertainment value.   Most of these scenes could have easily been left on the cutting room floor, with the exception of the few funny parts that were already seen in the trailers, anyway.

Dirty jokes are also common in Apatow-produced movies and this one is no exception.  The difference is that in this movie, the jokes aren’t funny and don’t fit the context of the film, leaving them to be nothing but dirty… such as an early moment when co-star Chris Pratt has some fun with a carrot.  Come to think of it, that joke followed another bit about an incident involving another actor’s finger.  That joke wasn’t really dirty, but more just disturbing/shocking.  Both gags, however, are just completely random and don’t really have any business being in the plot.

Perhaps the main problem with The Five-Year Engagement is that, despite the fact that the two lead characters are played by two very likeable actors, it is difficult to sympathize with them because most of the conflict in their relationship seems to be self-generated.  They create their own obstacles and then we are expected to feel sorry for them when things don’t work out as they hoped.  Sorry, I’m just not buying it.

High hopes for this comedy were teased in the opening act, but then were dashed in the weighty mid-section.  The movie makes a valiant attempt to redeem itself in the final act, but the damage has already been done.  Hang out for the start of this movie, then take an extended bathroom break and kill some time in the lobby before returning to see how it ends.  If you feel like you missed anything, go online and check out the trailer.

The Five-Year Engagement is rated R for “sexual content, and language throughout.”  There are enough dirty jokes and partial nudity to warrant the R rating.  It’s too bad, because this movie probably would have done better at PG-13.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of The Five-Year Engagement.