‘The Five-Year Engagement'
Yes, the critical punch line practically writes itself: with its leaden pacing and predictable movements, “The Five-Year Engagement” actually seems like it runs for half a decade, and if it weren't for the considerable appeal of stars Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Alison Brie and Chris Pratt, it might feel longer. Co-writers Segel and Nicholas Stoller follow up the much more inspired “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” with a romantic comedy that is only fitfully funny in between long, hard slogs through a misery-strewn, thinly stretched plot.
At the beginning, Tom and Violet (Segel and Blunt) are freshly and happily engaged, living in San Francisco where Tom is considered a rising star on the food scene. But then Violet is offered a postdoctoral position at a university in Michigan, which prompts Tom to put his chef dreams on the back burner and move to the Rust Belt with Violet. While his loutish best friend Alex (Pratt) marries Violet's sister Suzie (Brie) and they build an idyllic life and family, Tom is stuck in a culinary wasteland and soon becomes mired in a lifestyle of bad sweaters, unfortunate facial hair and crossbow hunting while Violet receives plenty of oily overtures from department head Winton Childs (Rhys Ifans).
If it weren't for the sex jokes, “The Five-Year Engagement” would be roughly as funny as a Eugene O'Neill play. Its worldview is distressingly retrograde: if only Violet deferred her dreams, the couple could avoid five years of bad decisions and Tom would not transform into a backwoods lunatic. The Blu-ray allows for extended scenes, but at more than two hours, “The Five-Year Engagement” is already extended beyond justification, with each roadblock to happiness obviously in place to delay the inevitable happy ending. Too much talent is on display for the film to be a complete misfire, but “The Five-Year Engagement” comes close to being a waste of time.
— George Lang