Movie review: ‘Five-Year Engagement’ takes meandering walk to altar
The creative team of actor-writer Jason Segel and director-writer Nick Stoller has made its romantic comedy reputation by gently tweaking the standard boy-meets-girl conventions of the well-worn genre and tilting them slightly askew.
They did that quite winningly in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and they do it again in the offbeat and warmly funny, though slightly scattered, “Five-Year Engagement,” which pairs the dauntless romantic Segel with the stunning Emily Blunt and gives the British actress a chance to show off some surprisingly strong comic chops.
With Stoller taking his sweet time (perhaps too much so) rolling out the story of nuptial interruptus, the movie piles on lots of oddball diversions and quirky supporting players to extend what’s essentially a pretty simple story.
It goes like this: Segel’s Tom is an up-and-coming San Francisco chef who has finally summoned up the nerve to propose to his lovely girlfriend Violet (Blunt). But before their wedding, Violet, a smart psychology grad student, is offered a prestigious position at the University of Michigan. Noble Tom agrees to forego his culinary career and follow Violet to the rustic North Country.
There, she ends up spending too much time at work, under the fervent gaze of a too-interested supervisor (funny Rhys Ifans), and Tom falls into an increasingly sour funk as their wedding plans get put off time and again.
It should be noted that the producer here is Judd Apatow, who is practically a brand name for this sort of R-rated relationship fare. (In fact, ad copy for this film boasts of its ties to the “Bridesmaids” producer, but that’s mostly a bait and switch ploy.)
“Five-Year Engagement” contains the usual Apatow touches – lots of sexual frankness and streaming vulgarity, plenty of misunderstanding and miscommunication between men and women, hapless men struggling with issues of ego and maturity. But on its meandering course to “I do,” it contains some decidedly dark and emotional touches.
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