If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Now I'm not a fan of all Judd Apatow's films. I liked Superbad (2007) and loved Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) with a passion. Then there are his latest films that I hate, Bridesmaids (2011) and Wanderlust (2012). He might not have directed the films I just named but his name is stamped on every poster, trailer, and commercial you will see for these films. The Five-Year Engagement is one of his produced films, which was written and directed by Nicholas Stoller along with actor/writer Jason Segel. These two have made a great pair for their last couple films. As I've said before, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, is one of my favorite comedies of the last couple years and what makes it work so well is their comedic writing. Then, they both wrote last year's, The Muppets (2011), which is really good but falls short of brilliant. The Five-Year Engagement is in the same category as The Muppets, It's good but not great. What we receive is a cute date movie that is stretched unbearably long, making you want to press fast-forward just to see the outcome.
The plot is fairly simple with Tom (Jason Segel) proposing to his beautiful British girlfriend, Violet (Emily Blunt). We see a cute scene with them as it's the opening of the film, which then goes horribly wrong. Violet gets offered a job at the University of Michigan. They then must wait 2 years to get married, pack their bags and travel from their home in San Francisco and go to the cold, hunter depths of Michigan. Soon she must stay an extra 3 years making it the, you guessed it: five-year engagement. But this is what works for the film. We usually see the romantic comedies that have been done before since 1934 with, It Happened One Night. This time, we get to see the trouble after the ending of those films. We see these characters and how they go about planning their marriage. It has it's own little twist, but at the same time is cute and charming. We also get a sub-plot with Tom's best friend, Alex (Chris Pratt) and Violet's sister Suzie (Alison Brie). These two are some of the best parts of the film and really make an "ideal" relationship for Tom and Violet.
What makes and breaks this film is, not only the characters, but the actors or actor, I should say. Emily Blunt is both cute and charming and she brings this relationship together. She cares for Tom so much and you feel her emotions. She is trying all she can with getting a good job to help support her and her chef husband, but there is something wrong with Tom. Maybe it's that I'm a fan of Jason Segel, but he is really toned down in this film. He was a hilarious man-child in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he was a bright and cheerful character in The Muppets, even in his T.V. show, How I Met Your Mother, he has ridiculous amounts of hilarity and acting ability. Here, he doesn't do much. Emily Blunt carries all of his weight and he just grows some lamb-chops (not a joke) and becomes another man-child. But instead of that being funny, he is boring at it. All his comedic genius is gone and he gives it to his female co-star and sits back to do what seems to be an "inside joke" with his buddies.
I cannot go without saying how brilliant Chris Pratt and Alison Brie are. Pratt has done some minor roles in film and television, while Brie has a major role on television's Community and another T.V. role in Mad Men. Pratt brings a dumb, almost jock, sort of character to the screen that works the whole time. But, Brie really does steal the show, here. She is so incredibly talented and funny, that she makes the scenes. She is engaging, hilarious, adorable, and has a sense of realism about her. If she stays on this path she could, with a doubt be on the list of great actresses in the next couple of years. The scenes that her and Blunt share are some of the best in the whole film. One scene involves them arguing in Sesame Street voices that had me laughing for a couple minutes afterwards.
I'm more glad that this didn't end up like Wanderlust. In that film there came a point where you have no emotional connection with the characters. Not anyone of them. In The Five-Year Engagement, you like or even love all of the characters. When you think it's going in one direction, Segel's and Stoller's writing wins you over and it makes a complete cutesy romantic date movie for all to see. The only other problem is the unnecessary length. It's only 2 hours long, but feels like 3. This is a film that could have been shortened, but because of Apatow's name, they stretch it out and it isn't needed. I give it a Matinee. It's definitely worth your time especially on a date. That is what romantic comedies were made for and boy, do I have a soft-spot for them.
See ya all on the other side,
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