The Five Year Engagement
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller.
Written by: Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller.
Starring: Jason Segel (Tom Solomon), Emily Blunt (Violet Barnes), Chris Pratt (Alex Eilhauer), Alison Brie (Suzie Barnes-Eilhauer), Lauren Weedman (Chef Sally), Mimi Kennedy (Carol Solomon), David Paymer (Pete Solomon), Jacki Weaver (Sylvia Dickerson-Barnes), Jim Piddock (George Barnes), Dakota Johnson (Audrey), Rhys Ifans (Winton Childs), Mindy Kaling (Vaneetha), Randall Park (Ming), Kevin Hart (Doug), Brian Posehn (Tarquin).
The movie stars Segel as Tom, a chef working in San Francisco, who proposes to his girlfriend Violent (Emily Blunt) on New Year’s Eve. Things seem to be going perfectly when their life is turned upside down. Violent doesn’t getting the teaching position she wanted at Berkley – but does get into a program for Research Assistants at the University of Michigan. Tom agrees to go with her to Michigan – only for a couple of years before she can get another job out West – and in the process turns down a major promotion. Now, stuck in Michigan, Violent becomes successful and happy at work, and Tom is stuck working at a sandwich shop – a good one, but still it’s a sandwich shop. And their seemingly perfect relationship starts to go wrong.
In theory, I like the idea of this movie. Although it is produced by Judd Apatow, and is the same Stoller/Segel team that made Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five Year Engagement is an attempt to be more mature than the previous films – to give a level of complexity to its female star the other films did not have, and not just make her the personification of female perfection who drags her overgrown man child boyfriend into adulthood behind her. Yet the movie can never really find the right notes to make all this work – Segel is still an overgrown man child, but this time he has a legitimate gripe with how everything has turned out, not that it excuses the creepy, bunny suit wearing, mustachioed loser he becomes. And while Blunt is given a role with more complexity to play here – she isn’t just rolling her eyes and throwing up her hands and saying “Boys will be boys” like so many other women in these movies, she is still much harder to get a read on than Tom. Does she, who is apparently in the psychology department, not see what is happening to Tom, or does she not want to see? Does she really think it’s fair that Tom has had to sacrifice everything so that she can get what she wants? We know from the beginning of their trip to Michigan that something will happen between her and her boss – Rhys Ifans – but did it all have to play out so predictably?
As it stands, The Five Year Engagement lurches from one scene to the next and never really finds itself. It tries to be too much – and as a result it ends up doing none of it very well. The idea is there for a great movie – but The Five Year Engagement comes nowhere close.