By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — How long does it take to walk down the aisle? In this case, half a decade.
Or, as the old joke says, “Marriage is a three-ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring, suffering.”
The Five-Year Engagement is, on the other hand, a charmer that aims for sustained amusement rather than knee-slapping hysteria and amounts to two hours of smart, agreeable entertainment.
Jason Segel and Emily Blunt star as Tom Solomon and Violet Barnes — he’s a San Francisco sous chef, she’s a graduate student in social psychology — an engaged couple of seeming soulmates.
But life keeps intruding and obstacles keep surfacing, and their engagement keeps getting extended and nuptials delayed for a variety of reasons.
For openers, they relocate from San Fran to Ann Arbor when she’s accepted into a post-doc graduate program at the University of Michigan, and he puts his career on the back burner by giving up his relatively prestigious job for an almost insultingly modest one making sandwiches at an Ann Arbor delicatessen.
So this romantic comedy is somewhat of a marital shaggy dog story, an exploration of the ups and downs and ins and outs and stops and starts of a relationship of a loving couple who keep driving off the marital road.
The supporting cast includes Rhys Evans as Violet’s too-attentive supervisor, Chris Pratt as Tom’s best friend, Alison Brie as Violet’s sister, Chris Parnell as Tom’s hunting buddy, and Mindy Kaling and Kevin Hart as Violet’s fellow grad students.
Director Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek), who also produced along with Judd Apatow and co-wrote the flashback-laden screenplay with Segel (with whom he also collaborated on Forgetting Sarah Marshall) has not so much flipped or subverted the romantic comedy formula as tweaked it a bit, starting where most romantic comedies end: that is, he proposes to her in the film’s very first scene.
Just as his lead couple does, Stoller takes a relaxed approach, meandering when he could be galloping with an outcome that, although inevitable, doesn’t play out as predictable or formulaic.
Ultimately, the film is about the fluidity of long-range relationships and it embraces the messiness of life even if that makes for a somewhat messier movie.
The supporting ensemble produce more than their share of light laughs throughout, but the heavy lifting is still done with no visible strain by likable leads Segel and Blunt, who have ample chemistry.
For the most part, it’s the pleasure of the central twosome’s company over an extended period that rewards the audience.
So we’ll propose 3 stars out of 4 for the engaging prenup comedy, The Five-Year Engagement.
Do I endorse it? I do.