The Two-Hour ‘Engagement’
To say that “The Five-Year Engagement” is targeted toward a specific demographic is an understatement. After all, the first line on every advertisement does read, “From the producer of ‘Bridesmaids,’” and not to mention that the film’s title is in the same font used for “Bridesmaids.”
Personally, this critic was already on board to see this movie upon learning that Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “The Muppets”) had co-written the screenplay. Whenever these two write together, the result is comedic gold.
“The Five-Year Engagement” is no exception to this rule of thumb. Though the simple plot may turn off fans of the traditional romantic comedy genre, the quick-witted writing churned out by the team of Segel and Stoller will delight comedy aficionados.
Segel pulls double duty and stars in the film as Tom, a chef on the rise at a hip San Francisco restaurant. His girlfriend Violet, played by Emily Blunt (“The Devil Wears Prada”), is a psychology grad student waiting to be accepted for a fellowship at UC Berkeley. All seems good and well when Tom proposes, but wait! Violet doesn’t get into Berkeley. Conflict. Tom hangs his chef hat, the couple postpones their nuptials, and they move east, where Violet will work at the University of Michigan for the next two years.
Any moviegoer who is familiar with the romantic comedy genre knows what follows next. It’s in the title, after all. Segel and Stoller underestimate their audience’s intelligence, though. They employ every clichéd chick flick device, and there are moments when the conflicts in the plot drag on for far too long, as if the audience doesn’t know what comes next. To put it into perspective, the running time of this film is 124 minutes; a cute love story just doesn’t need that much time.
That’s not to say the movie isn’t enjoyable. As previously mentioned, Seger and Stoller deliver comedic magic. Their strength lies in their subtlety and witty one-liners, and the characters that are created for this film will not disappoint the fans.
Segel and Blunt are delightful as the couple that just can’t get it together, and they will have you rooting for them until the end.
Familiar faces like Chris Pratt (“Parks and Recreation”), Alison Brie (“Community”) and Mindy Kaling (“The Office”) round out the ensemble and bring their NBC Thursday night comedy chops in full force. Brie adopts a believable British accent, and Pratt single-handedly delivers what is arguably the funniest scene in the film. Kaling’s sly deadpan humor gels seamlessly with the rest of the cast.
Pleasant surprises come in the form of Randall Park (“Dinner for Schmucks”), who plays Ming, Violet’s sassy colleague, and Dakota Johnson (“The Social Network”), who shines as the whiny 23-year-old Audrey, a rival love interest you’re supposed to hate but can’t because she’s so funny.
If you can set aside the predictability of the story, then the perfect cast and brilliantly funny writing make the film a must-see.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5