Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are ready to get married, but life has other plans. When new fiancée Violet pulls him to Michigan, Tom has to give up his life as a chef in trendy San Francisco. Their wedding gets delayed, interrupted by the funerals of grandparents, and out right forgotten.
Director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek) reunites with producer Judd Apatow as well as co-writer/star Jason Segel for more shenanigans. The track record of producer Judd Apatow should make it clear that some of the humor is dirty. At least it’s creative, witty, and in a turn from his usual methods doesn’t objectify women. There’s no fiery sexpot ready to lead Tom astray. Many jokes can be played on TV. My personal favorite comes when Violet and her sister Suzie (Alison Brie) have an altercation in front of a small child who requests they channel Sesame Street characters. Even the slapstick is rhythmic, not dwelling too long on the setup so as to give away the fall. Jason is something of a giant sponge damp from absorbing abuse, and his (for the most part) steadfast loyalty is endearing.
Structurally the romcom is a predictable genre. There are only two ways The Five-Year Engagement could end, but I have a feeling that given the fun factor the opposite conclusion would have been satisfying. The ride is worthwhile and every bit character receives exploration, be it the drunk creep at work, the emasculated stay-at-home dad, or fellow grad students.
As the credits roll I see the now ubiquitous declaration of carbon footprint offsetting, the American Humane Association’s approval (deers shot by Tom while hunting are comically fake) and a series of thank you shout-out. Many of these included locales, but no real confirmation of filming in Michigan. Maybe that explains the use of some of the worst stock footage every put in a nationally released film. Several exterior shots entirely fail to match the appearance of the A roll. They’re upscaled video clips, and in at least one case interlaced. Combine this aesthetic suicide with a rather lengthy running time that spills over the 120 minutes and you’ve found my primary gripes. However, isn’t an elongated runtime appropriate for a movie titled as such?
As a male observer I find myself relating to Tom and Violet equally. His charm and her smarts are apparent and unforced. It’s early, and this isn’t the typical fodder but I would hope that perhaps Emily or Jason receive some nominations for their roles and/or writing. Harking back to the early statement, The Five-Year Engagement is thus far the best movie of 2012. ***½