27 April 2012

The Five-Year Engagement

Emily Blunt, left, and Jason Segel are shown in a scene from "The Five-Year Engagement."

Collaborating again, director Nicholas Stoller and star Jason Segel have made in "The Five-Year Engagement" sort of the opposite of their first film together, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008).

"Sarah Marshall" is about a man's struggle to move on after a bad breakup; in "The Five-Year Engagement," a man puts his life and ambitions on hold to stay with the woman he loves.

Segel is Tom, a chef who dreams of opening his own restaurant and is on the fast track to becoming a head chef, which is almost as good. But his fiancée, Violet (Emily Blunt), lands a dream job of her own. So Tom leaves behind his beloved San Francisco, following her to snow-covered Ann Arbor, where she works in the psychology department at the University of Michigan.

While Violet strikes up a close friendship with her new boss (Rhys Ifans), Tom is floundering, settling for a job making sandwiches at a deli, taking up hunting and growing a scraggly beard. The initial two years in Michigan become more, and a wedding is nowhere in sight.

Segel and Blunt are wonderful together, and while Tom and Violet each do things to which we might object, we root for them to make it work.

The real highlight, though, is the supporting cast, especially Chris Pratt ("Parks and Recreation") and Alison Brie ("Community") as Tom's best friend and Violet's sister, who embark on a relationship that moves at a breakneck pace, while Tom and Violet are stuck in neutral. Best known for their TV work, Pratt and Brie--the pairing feels like something out of some kind of weird, crossover fan fiction--steal virtually every scene in which they appear.

Alison Brie, left, and Chris Pratt are shown in a scene from "The Five-Year Engagement."

We also get quality moments from Jim Piddock, David Paymer, Mindy Kaling ("The Office"), comedian Kevin Hart, Chris Parnell ("Saturday Night Live") and comedian Brian Posehn.

Topping two hours, the movie runs a little long, which is typical of Judd Apatow productions. But there are many laughs to be had, and it's worth sticking it out until the end.

Greg’s Grade: B+

(Rated R for sexual content, and language throughout. 124 minutes.)

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