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Five Times the Fun - A review of The Five Year Engagement
A keenly observant movie about a relationship filled with angst and sacrifice and the lengths people will go to in a less-than-ideal relationship situation.
Judd Apatow movies are rather surprising to me when I consider today's comedy landscape.
On the one hand, his movies are marvelously rude, throwing in situation after situation that I normally associate with "the dumbing down of the Hollywood comedy." On the flip side, though, they always contain a marvelous dose of pathos that honestly make you step back and think about what you've just seen.
Of course, Apatow is just producing here, so how much of a hand he had in the story's development remains a mystery. Overall, though, you can feel his presence in everything that happens here.
Tom and Violet (Jason Segel and Emily Blunt) have been together for a year when Tom proposes. Before they can get married, however, Emily gets her dream job on a campus in Michigan where she can pursue her doctorate.
Tom, who is a world class chef in San Francisco, agrees to leave and join her. After all, it will only be for two years. They decide to put off the wedding plans.
The angst comes into play when Tom can't get a decent job in Michigan and ends up making sandwiches, Emily's fellowship gets extended adding another wrinkle into the fray.
In good relationships, one partner, it seems, will sacridice for the other's happiness but it brings with it some resentment. Tom's and Violet's relationship is no exception to this rule of thumb. It is quite obviously in stress yet both are so good natured that we want to see them work this out..
Predictable results occur with predictable consequences...and of course it doesn't seem like the film will end the way we want it to. Then again, in many relationships, this is true to form as well.
But this is a Hollywood movie. And Hollywood movies have to have a satisfying but believeable ending and romcom fans will not be disappointed in the way this one wraps up. Whether it's believable depends on your sense of believability in human nature.
Jason Segel is the heart of this movie. We keep rooting for him and his character because he is just so likable. When the situation his character endures unfolds, we bleed along with him. And we wonder why this happening to him. And also why he is taking it as well as he does.
Emily Blunt, though, is the movie's soul. We want her to be successful, but we wish she would stop and focus on the important things in life for a moment. Normally, the fast track to success is given to male roles though, so it's nice to see that she isn't shortchanged here.
The bottom line, though, is that these two characters belong together, if for no other reason than that they are both good-hearted. They want the best for each other and both are willing to sacrifice to make this relationship work. When the strain overwhelms them both, we feel the heartbreak along with them, which can be often overlooked in the wrong directorial hands. And other actors would be hard-pressed to bring this to life.
It may be hard to find true love in this world where everyone seems so focused on themselves in this day and age. But when two people find each other and desire to make it work, they deserve that opportunity. That is the dream that is kept alive here. And why this movie deserves more scrutiny and can't simply be dismissed as a formula romantic comedy.
After all, don't we all deserve that fairy tale ending?
I give this movie 4-1/2 out of 5 stars.