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Violet (Emily Blunt) and Tom (Jason Segal) mosey toward marriage in <em>The Five-Year Engagement</em>.

Violet (Emily Blunt) and Tom (Jason Segal) mosey toward marriage in The Five-Year Engagement.


The Five-Year Engagement

Emily Blunt and Jason Segel star in a film written and directed by Nicholas Stoller.


In some curious way, the problems faced by maritally option, anxious couple at the center of this odd and oddly enjoyable film seem synchronized with the problematic interior life of the movie itself. Here we have a love-bound couple (Emily Blunt and Jason Segel) who jump into the engagement phase of romantic life quickly, but lapse into an epic process of putting off the wedding, for various reasons, mostly along the lines of life getting in the way of life plans. She gets a grad-school op in Michigan, pulling him away from a rising restaurant career in San Francisco, turning him into a neutralized partner in a love going fuzzy then crisp again. That kind of thing.

In Nicholas (Get Him to the Greek) Stoller’s movie, we keep waiting for engagement, teased and amused along the story’s path. The spirits and sense of self-understanding keep rising and falling, stretched out over a rambling and overlong landscape of hurry-up-and-waiting, without ever really settling into or knowing itself. What results is a pleasant mongrel of a genre film in which romantic comedy bumps into relationship-angst passages, quirky detours (mostly involving Michigan stereotypes), and other sideline distractions: Call it serio-rom-com. At least it’s a sweeter and less groansome item out of the Judd Apatow factory.

Multiple personality disordering seeps into the casting, as well. Blunt is mostly magnetic throughout the shifting dramedy demands of the piece, but Segel can’t seem to handle the thespian heat once things turn away from the loveable goofball zone he specializes in. He’s 2-D in a role requiring at least some moments of 3-D empathy. Side roles spice up the scenery, from Rhys Ifan’s oily and conniving psychology prof to Chris Pratt’s strong presence as our husband-to-be’s plainspoken friend.

By the time we get around to the inevitable closure factor, the knot-tying climax of the film, we might feel half-fulfilled but also have to stifle half yawns, wondering if we should have spent two hours of our lives in the theater for this. But looking back and gauging the warm fuzzy moments in this sometimes ambling and slack film, the answer is a profound, “Sure, why not?”

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