The Five-Year Engagement
dir Nicholas Stoller
scr Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
prd Judd Apatow, Rodney Rothman, Nicholas Stoller
with Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, Jacki Weaver, Brian Posehn, Mimi Kennedy, David Paymer, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Randall Park
release US 27.Apr.12, UK 22.Jun.12
12/US Universal 2h04
The Five-Year Engagement
You've got to laugh: Segel and Blunt

pratt ifans weaver
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Five-Year Engagement Segel and Stoller repeat their duties from 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall and come up with another hilarious romantic-comedy for grown-ups. It's corny, but it keeps us laughing all the way through while stirring in some genuinely sweet moments.

A year after they met, San Francisco chef Tom (Segel) proposes to his girlfriend Violet (Blunt), but their excited wedding plans are interrupted when Violet gets a post-doc position at the University of Michigan. So they postpone the wedding and head to the snowy Midwest. There, Violet's career soars while Tom has little to do beyond making sandwiches in a deli and going hunting with his new friends. And before they can set a new date, Violet's sister (Brie) marries and has two kids with Tom's best pal (Pratt).

The lengthy running time obscures the formulaic rom-com structure, which kicks in just about the time we think the story's about to finish. Fortunately, the film never drags; even when the plot start roaming in circles, it's packed with riotously funny gags. Far too many of these involve sudden injury, often potentially very serious, but these violent pratfalls are amusingly well-staged. And the script deftly keeps the smart dialog balanced with realistic character detail.

Segel pretty much plays himself again, but he's enlivened by his chemistry with the delightful Blunt, who combines bubbly charm with sharp wit to make Violet irresistible to everyone, including her boss (Ifans). Meanwhile, Pratt gives a nice turn as the requisite goofy buddy, and the cast is packed with terrific scene-stealers like Weaver and Kennedy, as the tightly wound mothers of the bride and groom, respectively.

If the plot isn't terribly inventive, at least the comedy is. Many of the jokes are so sharply pointed that they catch us off guard; the hand of producer Apatow is felt in this adult-aimed humour, although it has a lighter tone than his more bloated movies. And as the narrative winds its way to the predicted conclusion, at least Stoller and Segel find some snappy ways to surprise us, drawing out both laughs and sighs. It may be uneven and silly, but the characters and the film itself completely win us over.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, violence 28.May.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall