By: Jenna Zine (Three Beers) –
Loving couple Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) decide to postpone their wedding, in hopes that the timing will improve, after Violet’s job forces them to temporarily relocate from San Francisco to Ann Arbor, Michigan. The delay begins to cause strain as the years drift by…
The Five-Year Engagement is another Judd Apatow production that reunites the creative writing team of Jason Segel and director Nicholas Stoller, whose previous work together was showcased in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You know what to expect with this team: hilarity, slightly off-kilter dialogue, a solid plot, kinetic performances and a lot of raunchiness. TFYE delivers this satisfying formula, with large thanks going to Jason and Emily as the engaging and believable leads.
Another thing Apatow and company excel at are subplots and secondary characters. Due to the strength of the writing and directing, characters that would otherwise go unnoticed or unremembered are given a chance to shine with even the fewest lines. This film’s standout star with a small role is Lauren Weedman as Chef Sally. She’s barely in the movie, but you’ll be left wishing there was more of her.
This is just the beginning – literally!
Lots of fun is also had with adorable costars Allison Brie (as Suzie, Violet’s sister) and Chris Pratt (as Tom’s best friend, Alex). Pratt plays a character similar to his Parks & Recs persona, but does so with his usual goofy affection. Co-writers Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller have an incredible ear for dialogue and are not afraid to evenly distribute the pithy one-liners. This leads to a well-rounded experience, where everyone gets to have a blast. I’d say it’s all the more noteworthy, given that Segel could easily hog the best bits to himself; that’s not his game though, and it speaks well of his commitment to the project’s overall quality. Kudos, Jason! (Watch a great interview that addresses Jason and Nicholas’ writing process via The Hollywood Reporter, if you’re interested in learning more.) The dirty jokes are the highlight of any Apatow flick and the same goes here. Also a fight between Violet and Suzie, in front of Suzie’s kids, exclusively using the voices of Cookie Monster and Elmo, had me in tears. That scene alone makes this a must-see!
Hi, I’m Allison Brie. I can also look adorable with a pink, fluffy thing on my head!
While this movie is an undeniably frothy concoction, it does fall a little flat in parts. I also experienced a five-year engagement, but it was due to the terminal illness of my husband’s sister. It’s difficult to plan a wedding when one of your bridesmaids is going to die. Delayed nuptials brought on by great job opportunities in two different cities frankly didn’t sound that dire to me, so perhaps that colored my opinion. But this isn’t MovieBoozer Presents A Lifetime Television Event: Jenna & Larry Finally Get Married! (Though, if this comes to fruition, I insist on casting approval. It must be Shannen Doherty. I shan’t sign over the rights if Jennifer Love Hewitt is in the running.)
The lack of sparkle in parts is ironically brought on by what a great job Segel did with the development of the main characters. Tom loves Violet unconditionally and wants to see her succeed so he naturally agrees to the move. However, in doing so, he gives up much of the things in his life that made him happy. This brings on a crisis of low self-esteem, accompanied by a serious depression. And, while it’s understandable and relatable, those symptoms don’t make for a bawdy giggle-fest that everyone has come to associate with this crew. Tighter editing could’ve insinuated the nuances of Tom’s depression while still keeping the laughs coming at a consistent pace.
Culinary adventures are abound in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Don’t get me wrong – the film is still a ton of fun and it’s bursting with quotable lines. It’s also cool for diehard fans of romantic comedies to experience things from a man’s perspective, which is all too rare in the genre. I know a lot of things are from a man’s perspective, so that might go over like a lead balloon. However, I was swayed by watching the interview (see link above) with Segel talking about the care he took in creating the characters and how he crafted them with a willingness to step into each part. I appreciated that he flip-flopped the roles of a man willing to follow a woman for her career instead of the standard reverse. Sure, he’s miserable while doing it – but he tried!
I’ve just got to ask – what’s up with Judd Apatow’s theme of women having drunken one-night stands, getting pregnant, keeping the babies and marrying men they barely know? Surprise pregnancies are rarely so fun in real life – nor do they tend to work out so seamlessly. Drink up, ladies – apparently your happy ending is waiting at the end of several cocktails after unprotected sex with a stranger. Let the joys of family life commence!
TFYE receives a thumb’s up (bottle’s up) for bringing a touch of reality to rom-coms, while still providing numerous laugh-out-loud moments. It fits the standard rom-com mold to a T, but it’s still a pretty fun mold to wear.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you see Tom in a pink bunny suit.
Take a Drink: every time there’s the funeral of a grandparent. Yep!
Take a Drink: every time you hear a Van Morrison tune, in original form or cover song. Your choice!
Do a Shot: during the hilarious rant of Tom’s mother over Bloody Marys where she sets him straight about his priorities with Violet.
You’re free to go when the credits start rolling. Surprisingly there are no bonus tidbits.