On the surface, The Five-Year Engagement may seem like it would be yet another silly, goofball romantic comedy. And since it has Judd Apatow’s name on it, you may expect it to have a little bit of raunch… but just the right amount of heart, too.
Thankfully, it is all those things, but that only scratches the (very funny and very charming) surface. In fact, The Five-Year Engagement is a surprisingly moving and eventually mature look at the ups and downs of one of the better on-screen couples to grace the cineplex in a while.
And you’ll also laugh your ass off.
Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are at it again, after swooning for each other in 2010’s Gulliver’s Travels. He’s Tom, a sous chef on the fast track in the food nirvana of San Francisco. She’s Violet, an aspiring psychology researcher who’s waiting to get accepted into a post-doc at Berkeley.
A year after they meet-cute at a costume party, he proposes, she says yes, and the wedding planning begins. But when she gets accepted into a two-year program at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor residents will surely cry foul at its ‘backwoods ice-ville’ portrayal here), the nuptials get put on hold.
Time drags on, Tom grows more and miserable, and Violet’s grandparents are dropping like flies. Eventually Tom sprouts muttonchops and begins living the life of Grizzly Adams. Violet, meanwhile, is so successful that two years become four, and eventually she’s put on tenure track.
Throughout all this, The Five-Year Engagement is buoyed even further by a supporting cast headlined by the scene-stealing Alison Brie (Community) as Violet’s wonky sister Suzie and Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) as Tom’s best friend Alex (brilliantly unleashing his inner Stifler). Other solid supporting players include Rhys Ifans, Mindy Kaling, Chris Parnell, and Brian Posehn.
Director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), who also co-wrote the script with Segel, takes what could have been a throw-away bit of rom-com fluff and turns it into a drop-dead funny (though heartfelt) meditation about relationships, with a side order of lunacy. Along the way we’re treated to bits about a severed finger, a fake male orgasm, a deer carcass, and an amputated toe. And that’s before we even get to Violet and Suzie hilariously channeling Elmo and the Cookie Monster. And the homage to 9 1/2 Weeks, starring potato salad and sriracha.
Throughout it all, The Five-Year Engagement never stops being an engaging, imminently watchable story of two people in love; it may just be the closest thing to When Harry Met Sally… (on an acid trip) that this generation will get.