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The Five-Year Engagement (A Movie Review)

The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement


Starring Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Lauren Weedman, Mimi Kennedy, David Paymer, Jacki Weaver, Rhys Ifans, Mindy Kaling, Randall Park, Kevin Hart, Brian Posehn, Dakota Johnson, Chris Parnell, Jim Piddock and Jane Carr.

Screenplay by Jason Segel and Nicolas Stoller.

Directed by Nicolas Stoller.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  124 minutes.  Rated R.

Most movie love stories end about the time that the protagonists attain their happily-ever-after moment.  They have finally won their true love – what could possibly go wrong now?

Of course, those movies also ignore the ever-after part of happily ever after.  Love can’t run hot forever or it will burn out.  Most relationships downshift from passion into comfort and familiarity.

Hollywood has never been good at selling comfort and familiarity.

The Five-Year Engagement is unique because it starts where most romantic comedies would end – a couple meets cute at a costume party and start on the road towards marriage.  And instead of leaving us with fantasies of where this relationship may go, the film instead takes a long hard look at the triumphs and pitfalls of a long-term relationship for a couple who may be meant for each other, but still has some significant problems.

It’s a smart and funny way to look at love – much more realistic than most Hollywood looks at “true love.”

Sometimes, true love includes career strife, boredom, dislocation and unfortunate facial hair choices.  Yes, this is that love story.

And yet, in their own ways, our lead characters Tom (Jason Segel, who also co-wrote the script) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are more romantic, more perfect for each other than any dozen Matthew McConaughey/Kate Hudson hook ups.

The thing is, though, sometimes life has other plans and the traditional trappings of Hollywood happy endings get sidetracked.

Tom is an up-coming chef in San Francisco.  Violet is a psych scholar looking for a position in a college program.  They are young, in love, engaged and happy when she gets a career opportunity.  The problem is, it is Michigan.  She has to move.  Tom goes with her – inadvertently losing his own career stepping stone.

She is happy there.  She is thrown into the psych department and working with a brilliant professor (Rhys Ifans) and his team (which includes Mindy Kaling, Randall Park and Kevin Hart).  She is spending time on campus, mixing with brilliant people and doing stimulating work.

He is miserable.  There are no class-A restaurants, so he has to take a job in a sandwich shop.  He has no friends.  The weather sucks.

Something has to break.  Can their relationship survive?

You’ll have to see it to find out, I’m not going to tell.  But either way, The Five-Year Engagement is an interesting and quirky look at modern love.  Real romance does not go the way of a romantic comedy.  Though even this has some parts which feel a bit strained, this does feel much more like real life.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: April 27, 2012.

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