The Five-Year Engagement (2012)
So this Stoller/Segel arrangement seems to be working out just fine.
The Five-Year Engagement is about a happy American guy who pops the question to his happy British girlfriend. She says “Jolly good,” he says “Right on,” and just like that, they start planning their wedding. At first, things are looking good. He’s gearing up to be the head chef of a swank new restaurant in Cali, she’s applying to grad schools nearby, love is in the air. But then she doesn’t get in to any of those conveniently-located West Coast schools, instead gets into the University of Michigan for a two-year program, and like the good fiancee he is, her beau gives up his culinary dreams to follow her up North. So they postpone the wedding and try to make things work as their careers butt heads, as their grandparents keep dying, and as everyone else starts getting hitched before them.
Man, nothing about that poster or that title made me want to see this movie. Never really cared for anything Emily Blunt’s ever done, certainly don’t care for that boring-ass couch pose they’ve got going on, and as great as Bridesmaids was, did anyone actually see it for the producers? Aside from still barely understanding what a producer even does outside of hemorrhage Benjamins, that seems like a stretch as far as plugs go. That’s like going to see Battleship because it’s “From Hasbro, the company that brought you Transformers.” Anyway, not a good start, but it’s not my fault they didn’t just slap Nicholas Stoller’s name up there in the first place.
See, when Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel get together, wonderful things happen. The Muppets, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek (no Segel, but that’s okay), and now this. In light of these home runs, I think we can chalk up Gulliver’s Travels as a mulligan. But as much as I can roll my eyes at the marketing wizards who promoted this thing, it was actually kinda nice being surprised by Stoller’s and Segel’s involvement. If anything, being out of the loop did a bang-up job of lowering my expectations, and there’s really nothing like walking into a movie you aren’t crazy to see, only to find yourself laughing harder and smiling wider as your mental Verdict keeps rising. Let’s just say that this one reached the big 8 pretty fast.
The laughs are rampant regardless of gender and the cast is awesome from front to back, but what really clicked with me was the story. I just got married four months ago, and now I’ll be moving to Vermont for two years because my wife just got accepted to a grad school program that she worked her ass off to get into. The parallel isn’t identical since I’m not leaving a dream job and am actually pretty stoked to be heading North, but it’s damn close. As a result, I was on the level with Tom and Violet, to a bizarrely relatable degree really. It was like I was Tom, my wife was Violet, and the stuff they were going through was the stuff we were right in the thick of. Unless I just need to do my homework, it ain’t often that I get so empathetic towards romcom couples, and that went a long way. Sure, the story’s predictable to a degree given the title and the way these movies always end up, but it does have its fair share of unforeseen plot and character developments that kept things far more interesting than I had expected.
Although if there’s one similarity between this and Bridesmaids, it’s that one of the better date movies I’ve seen in recent memory. If there are two similarities between this and Bridesmaids, it’s a funny female lead. Outside of John Krazinski, I don’t think there are a whole lot of people could have vouched for Emily Blunt’s comedic chops up until now. Such is life when you’re stuck playing British royals every year. But despite the uphill battle of having little to no comedic experience on her resume and acting alongside an entire cast of individuals who have all proven themselves worthy on the very successful and very funny network TV shows that they all currently star in, she rises to the occasion ends up being one of the funniest of the bunch. It’s just fantastic to see her loosen up and come across so natural as Victoria. It suits her perfectly, she’s got great comedic timing to boot, and it’s clearly evident that she’s enjoying herself as much as we’re enjoying her. Going off of the Emily Blunt we all knew and weren’t quite sure about, this is a freakin’ sea change of a transformation that’s better late than never and a delight to take in.
And Jason Segel’s great as Tom. Thought I was getting a bit Segel’d-out since How I Met Your Mother got syndicated, but really, what’s not to like about Jason Segel? Outrageously likeable as always, he has a really genuine chemistry with Blunt, and he’s funny as hell. Yup, the same old Jason Segel, and that’s just fine by me.
Alison Brie also has her moments as Violet’s sister, but she, along with everyone else for that matter, more or less gets overshadowed by Chris Pratt as Tom’s best friend. Dude is operating on another level of funny, but that’s not exactly news, at least for me it’s not. I don’t care if you’ve seen it already, go watch Parks and Rec. It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, and for a cast that’s without equal, I think it says a lot that Pratt is a personal favorite. So to all the Andy Dwyer fans out there, can I get an “Amen?”
Oh, and bonus points for the crap ton of choice cameos and bit roles that turn up.
I’m usually not one to shoot down the opinions of others when it comes to movies (everything else though, I will shoot you the hell down!), but I’m pretty dumbfounded by all the ho-hum reactions this movie’s been getting. Granted, had certain aspects of Tom and Violet’s relationship not come across as a mirror image of what’s going on in my own relationship, I probably wouldn’t be as enthusiastic had I been, say, single and playing Diablo III in my mother’s basement (not that there’s anything wrong with that, ’cause I’ve totally been there). But from where I was sitting, I had a grand old time with The Five-Year Engagement, and so did the wife. What can I say, good date movies are hard to find, so when a great one comes along, I just call ’em like I see ’em.
Was damn certain she was gonna owe me one for this. And that, dear readers, is why the missus wears the pants…