“The Five-Year Engagement” – Early Review (POSITIVE)
It’s another year and you know what that means? Another Judd Apatow production hits the theater circuit! Fans of Apatow will have to wait until Christmas of this year for his directorial return in “This Is 4o”, the film that’s being tagged as ‘the sort of sequel to “Knocked Up”’. Until then, we’re getting an early Christmas this, in the form of the “Sarah Marshall” team reuniting; Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller! Long time buds, Segel & Stoller, are taking Hollywood by storm, after their recent success with rebooting the beloved Muppets, it was a matter of time that they would return to dirty, raunchy, hard R-rated comedy territory, and while “The Five-Year Engagement” is indeed funny, it might be their chink in the chain, but minor at best.
The film follows Tom (Segel) & Violet (Emily Blunt), a young happy couple who recently got engaged. They thought it would be easy, they thought it would be fun to be engaged, and to plan a wedding together, little do they realize that the trials and tribulations they were worried to hit after 20 years of marriage, are starting to come into light, after the put their wedding on hold for Violets career. Tom was a sue chef for a big time San Francisco four star restaurant, he decides to quit and follow his love to Michigan, so she can earn her degree in becoming a renowned psychologist. The new life, the new location, the new people, is affecting Tom in a lot of ways, and it’s only a matter of time before he becomes the cynic his fiancé doesn’t want him to be.
One great thing about this movie, and it shares the same similarity to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, that it tricks the audience into thinking they’re going to see a typical romantic (chick flick) comedy, and in some ways you get that, but this is a very mean spirited romantic comedy. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it doesn’t cookie cut the life of a couple, there isn’t much Hollywood-isms attached to this film; well accept for the end, they have to get together after all, DUH. But, the entire five-year relationship is in fact presented in a realistic manner. Segel, doesn’t want to bull shit his fans or the general audience, he gave to us straight in “Sarah Marshall”, and he’s doing it again in the screenplay he’s written here again.
Another winning aspect this movie has is it’s chemistry with the characters, Segel and Blunt are very good here, I actually like this pairing more than when Segel was with Mila Kunis. The play off each other’s attitudes fluently and you really buy into it, it makes the humor all the more enjoyable. NBC comedy favorites Chris Pratt (“Parks & Rec”) and Allison Brie (“Community”) play deliciously hilarious couple, they have some of the funniest moments on screen, especially when they’re together. Pratt is already rising in Hollywood, he’s on a hit TV series and is making bigger rounds in the cinemas, see him in “Moneyball”. Like Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”, Pratt & Brie steal the show.
However, with all the positivity there must come some negativity, it’s not bad, but it is a running problem most of the Apatow company films have; the movies too long. It has too many scenes where it could’ve ended up on the cutting room floor. I know this is preparing us for the unrated extended directors cut for DVD/Bluray, like they normally do, but c’mon, romantic comedies, especially one like this, doesn’t need to be 2 hours and 7 mins long. The ending might’ve been rushed which was problematic at first, but how it leads into the inevitable wedding day, it’s becomes a redeeming factor. While it is indeed long, filled with these sketch-like segments that “Bridesmaids” endured, at least “Five-Year’s” segments are hilarious! I found myself laughing 10x more with this film than last years “Bridemaids”, and for that I thank you Jason Segel, you’re just so damn likeable.
“The Five-Year Engagement” is a tad long, yes, but what benefits the movie is the chemistry of Jason Segel & Emily Blunt and Chris Pratt & Allison Brie. The script has surprising depth and intelligence which has me convinced that Jason Segel & Nic Stoller can do no wrong when they’re paired together, it’s a rarity for a movie that has it’s distinct flaws and be quickly forgotten when you’re caught up in the characters, the story, and the smart jokes. I’ll be excited any time of the year when I learn of the news that Stoller/Segel are doing another movie together. It’s not every day where you get to see a movie where Elmo and Cookie monster have a crude argument about condoms, fucking, and relationships.