Tom and Violet complement each other perfectly. She wants to “get weird” in public places, and he wants to plan their wedding.
She likes to “people watch,” and he enjoys to cook. All seems well and good until Violet lands a job as a psychology researcher at the University of Michigan, forcing the couple to relocate from the warm and pleasant climate of San Francisco to the treacherous hills of Ann Arbor.
Now the couple has to weather the storm and hope that their relationship can withstand this major setback.
In the film “The Five-Year Engagement,” director Nicholas Stoller strives to tell a modern day romance. In contrast to the all-too-familiar premise of the woman dropping everything to follow her man, Tom (Jason Segel, “How I Met Your Mother”) is instead willing to sacrifice his career as a chef to follow Violet’s (Emily Blunt, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”) pursuit of academia. This isn’t to say that Tom is overly joyous about the move.
The majority of the film is laugh-out-loud funny with shticks such as Violet and her sister Suzie’s (Alison Brie, “Mad Men”) banter in Elmo and Cookie Monster voices.
However, if there is one flaw in the film, it would be Stoller‘s overuse of flashback sequences and lame gags. This causes the film to drag at times. The repeated flashbacks of the couple’s romance seem forced and unnecessary.
We get it: the two met at a New Years’ Eve costume party — she as Princess Diana, he as a bunny — and have been inseparable ever since. The first time, this scene was funny and showed the couple’s light-hearted relationship, but the continuous use of this technique becomes annoying. Stoller falls into the same trap with the dying grandparent gag. One grandparent dying from the anguish of waiting for the two to finally tie the knot was funny, yes. Two, three and so on felt more like overkill.
The acting in the film, for the most part, was above par, with only a few glitches here and there. Both Segel and Blunt brought the energy needed to create a free-spirited yet believable romance.
Their relationship didn’t feel like a contrived Hollywood take on a romance, but instead like a natural courting. It is endearing that the couple is able to laugh off each other’s failed attempts at the “perfect” proposal.
Needless to say, it does help that the stars of the film had a supporting cast that did just that: support. Chris Pratt’s (“Parks and Recreation”) character Alex is one that immediately comes to mind.
As Tom’s fellow chef, Alex is the immature bonehead that girls’ mothers warn them about. His highly inappropriate rendition of Billy Joel’s classic song “We Didn’t Start the Fire” in which he namedrops all of Tom’s previous lovers is telling of his character in itself. However, his childish antics don’t prevent him from impregnating and then marrying Suzie.
Also providing entertaining support and humorous moments are Violet’s misfit Ph.D. candidates Vaneetha (Mindy Kaling, “The Office”) and Ming (Randall Park, “Larry Crowne”).
“The Five-Year Engagement” is a comedy about staying rather than falling in love. Audience members will genuinely sympathize with both of the leads’ predicaments: Violet’s struggle to pursue her dream and Tom’s misery in trudging through the snow to serve sandwiches at a local joint.
That being said, this film has no business lasting a full two hours. After all, it is only a matter of time before they walk down the aisle.
— Contact Deana Bellen.