The Five-Year Engagement
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Opens April 27
This latest effort from the Forgetting Sarah Marshall team has a promising beginning, as Tom (co-writer Jason Segal) and Violet (Emily Blunt) meet cute at a New Year's Eve party, settle down, and then have to deal with relocating from idyllic San Francisco to cold and dreary Michigan after Violet is accepted at a psych program at the University there. This postpones their wedding for a few years, not to mention the career aspirations of Tom, a rising culinary star back home who's now laboring in a bagel/sandwich shop and growing more resentful as time goes on.
Segal, director and co-screenwriter Stoller, and producer Judd Apatow deserve some credit for at least trying to tell a more grown-up story this time, forgoing the drug humor, nerdy pop culture references, and gross-out humor (mostly). But they seem incapable or unwilling to realistically (and comedically) chart this faltering relationship without sticking in pointless scenes like Segal deer-hunting, and bonding with assorted weird faculty spouses. It's kind of incredible that, a decade or so into their comedic reign, the Apatow stable of writers and directors still haven't quite figured out how crucial editing and pacing are for comedy; when the couple finally have their big confrontation, it feels about a half hour too late.
From her first scene, Alison Brie just about steals the film as Violet's competitive sister (someone write a comedy for this woman to star in already), and the last half hour seems grafted on from a funnier, different film, including Brie and Blunt having it out while speaking in Muppet voices. A little more heart, insight and re-writing could have made this a sharp, perceptive date movie, instead of the flabby, occasionally funny one it is.