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The Five-Year Engagement (2012): Movie Review

Updated on October 30, 2012

The Five-Year Engagement

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Jason Segel plays Tom, a rising star of a chef at a San Francisco restaurant, who passes on a great career opportunity to move to Michigan so his fiancée Violet, played by Emily Blunt, can pursue her doctorate in Psychology. While Violet climbs the ranks in her field, Tom becomes increasingly despondent that his friend Alex is succeeding in the job he left behind and the only job he can find in Michigan related to food service is constructing sandwiches (at the world-famous Zingerman’s Deli, but still). What started as a whirlwind romance (Tom proposed only one year after meeting Violet) deteriorates into a long, drawn-out affair with several postponements of the wedding. Will Tom and Violet ever be able to reconcile their professional ambitions and finally get married?

Judd Apatow productions have a reputation for rolling out the same clique of actors over and over again. Certainly, it’s no shocker to see Jason Segel on screen, but for the most part, this cast was better known for being on network comedies than for other Apatow works. Part of the appeal of the movie is that the characters seem so familiar, as if they’ve just walked off their individual small-screen sets onto another one. Tom is almost indistinguishable from Segel’s Marshall on How I Met Your Mother. As with everything else he’s in, Chris Pratt is a scene-stealer. His Alex is smarter than Andy, Pratt’s character on Parks and Recreation, but there’s just enough of the buffoon in him that you feel like you’ve met him before. Alison Brie is delightful as neurotic Annie on NBC’s Community, so the only thing foreign about playing Violet’s neurotic sister Suzie is the British accent. (Seriously, there’s something off about that accent. I suppose Emily Blunt’s American accent is worse, or they might have been playing sisters from Florida or Maine instead of from London.) Blunt isn’t a regular on Must-See TV Thursdays, but her husband John Krasinski is, and co-star Mindy Kaling (both from The Office) used to be. As a group, these actors aren’t pushing their theatrical boundaries, but they are providing a believable, comfortable, atmosphere.

The Five-Year Engagement is a mash-up of How I Met Your Mother and The Break-Up, but with all the requisite cursing and male nudity you’d expect from an Apatow joint. It’s like an R-rated sitcom condensed five seasons into two hours, with just enough laughs and just enough heart to make a good date movie.

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