Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Run Time: 2 hours 4 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, David Paymer, Jacki Weaver, Jim Piddock
Written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Directed by Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek, Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
The Five-Year Engagement is funny enough to be remembered as one of the best comedies of 2012 even though we aren't even half-way through the year. It is also perhaps one of the best Michigan-based comedies of all-time, having been shot and taking place almost entirely in Ann Arbor.
That's not to say that the film is without flaws. It is way too long and a bit over-stuffed. But just like in love, rarely is anything perfect (except for my fiance of course...).
The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy for the times, saying as many truths about engaged couples as When Harry Met Sally said about single people, or that Knocked Up said about pregnancy. Our happy couple is Tom and Violet, played by Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.
Tom is an up-and-coming chef in San Francisco who proposes to his girlfriend Violet when we first meet them. Of course she says yes, but an opportunity comes up for Violet to further her career as a professor's assistant at the University of Michigan. Tom is a loving guy, so they agree to put off the wedding for the 2-year stint in Michigan. The move also means that Tom has to give up his job and relocate.
On film, one would think that Michigan is a cold and barren wasteland full of hunters and devoid of fancy dining. Of course, there are plenty of fancy dining spots in our great state (although I won't argue quibble with the rest of the description). It is good that we laugh at ourselves, and the payoff is that we get to see historic Ann Arbor landmarks like the Michigan Theater on the big screen. Tom even lands a job at Zingerman's Deli, a famed local delicatessen.
A movie about a long engagement sets you up to think that you are in store for a story about cold feet, but both Tom and Violet are madly in love with each other. This is more a movie about modern-day circumstance, where love exists in a world where career-minded women and men share equality in the workplace. The long engagement happens because life gets in the way for both of them, as it is known to do.
As for having cold feet? One of them gets extremely cold feet, but just not in the manner that you would think.
We all know the every-man comedic qualities of Jason Segel, but Emily Blunt shines. She is beautiful and funny, and with this role and her recent rom-com Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Blunt is like a British Meg Ryan in her prime. You just look at her on-screen and want to smile.
All great comedies have great supporting players, and there is no shortage of scene-stealers in this one. Chris Pratt and Alison Brie are a couple together for all the wrong reasons, and they are very funny together. Chris Parnell shows up as a closeted married man with a fondness for knitting. Both sets of parents, featuring Jacki Weaver as well as the always dependable David Paymer, are funny in their own ways, as they continue to pile on the pressure and the guilt for Tom and Violet to marry while they are still of this Earth. Let's just say that not everybody in the family makes it to the altar, a running gag that works its way throughout the film.
The movie itself sadly feels like a five-year engagement, but there is enough fun and heart to keep you emotionally invested. It is an R-rated comedy and produced by Judd Apatow, but it never crosses the line into raunchiness. It does have a morbid fascination with amputation however, with some outrageously unexpected disasters mixed in for laughs.
Despite its flaws, it speaks to the thirty-something crowd who is tackling the issues of career while simultaneously trying to balance their love life. The final stretch of the movie unfortunately travels down some too-familiar rom-com paths, but overall this movie deserves a ringing endorsement to anyone and everyone.
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