Somewhere etched on a stone tablet are the Rules of Rom Coms™. All romantic comedies, it seems, must have an unlikely couple meet, fall in love, hit an obstacle and then reconcile just before the credits roll. “Five-Year Engagement” is no different, but shakes up the formula with some dark comedy—no other romance would use frostbite as a plot point—an adult conversation done with Muppet voices and two leads with charm and charisma to burn.
Jason Segel is Tom, a San Francisco chef engaged to his girlfriend Violet (Emily Blunt). The quirky couple—they go to parties dressed as Princess Diana and Super Bunny—are a perfect match, but circumstance is getting in the way of the wedding plans. First Violet’s sister Suzie (Alison Brie) preempts her sister’s big day by getting pregnant and planning a shotgun wedding. Then psychology student Violet accepts a place in a two-year graduate program at the U. of Michigan, once again placing a speed bump in the way of their walk down the aisle.
Like many Judd Apatow-produced movies “Five-Year Engagement” begins plays out like a standard rom com but takes many twists and turns along the way.
Some darker touches help separate this from the run-of-the-mill romantic comedy. Having said that, they also weigh down the midsection of the movie. Luckily this isn’t Kristen Bell, or worse yet, Katherine Heigl and any other Standard Romantic Male Lead™, but Blunt and Segel. They are engine that keeps the movie moving forward. You care about what happens to them, and when the plot contrived obstacle comes between them, it doesn’t feel as standard as it does in most movies, and you really hope they’ll be able to work things out.
They are helped by a terrific supporting cast made up of Thursday night Must See TV sitcom regulars from shows like “The Office,” “Community” and “Parks and Recreation.” Community’s Alison Brie, is a scene-stealer. Watching her and Blunt have a grown-up conversation in Muppet voices is worth the long running time.
“Five-Year Engagement” could have used some trimming, but succeeds not because it follows Rules of Rom Coms™ but because it doesn’t.