SYNOPSIS: 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.
Richard: 3 Stars
Mark: 2 ½ Stars
Richard: Mark, 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—frostbite anyone?— and two leads with charm and charisma to burn.
Mark: Normally I would appreciate the dark touches in a movie like this, but instead I found they wrecked the comic tone. That tone, incidentally, was also compromised by an uneven script that was just too long and repetitive. I have nothing but praise for the actors, though. I cared about the two leads, and without them there would be no picture, but it was all the wonderful comic turns by some of my favorite character-savvy comedians. My favorite? Brian Posehn, from the Sarah Silverman Show. Yours, Richard?
RC: I agree with you to a point. I liked the darker touches because they helped separate this from the run-of-the-mill rom com. 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. They are helped not only by Posehn, but also Community’s Alison Brie, who is a scene-stealer. Watching her and Blunt have a grown-up conversation in Muppet voices is worth the long running time.
MB: Almost, but not quite. The five year engagement should not feel like it’s spooling out in real time. The muppet scene is priceless. So is Segal’s desperate and exhausted sex scene with his younger girlfriend. And if it’s dark comedy you like, look no further than Segal’s brunch with his parents toward the end of the movie. There is indeed much to admire and enjoy in this movie. But all the jokes that involved life in small town Michigan seemed worn, as did the restaurant scenes. The university researchers made me laugh, mostly due to Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, and Randall Park. But see? Too much going on here!
RC: It could have used some trimming, but for me it succeeds not because it follows Rules of Rom Coms™ but because it doesn’t.
MB: And the liberal use of Van Morrison tunes nudges this one over into the plus column for me.
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