“The Five Year Engagement” Review

It’s New Year’s Eve. Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) has dressed up as Super Bunny for a “create-your-own superhero” themed party. Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt) has donned a Princess Diana costume since “she doesn’t need any superpowers.” They spot each other from across the bar, and by the toll of midnight, they are each other’s New Years kiss.

Flash forward a year (or the beginning of the movie), Tom and Violet are driving to a New Years party but Tom wants to make a quick stop at a restaurant, where he serves as a sous chef, to “pick up receipts.” Afterextensive badgering from Violet, Tom reveals he was planning to propose to her.

Violet, who describes her life as completely surrounded in “academia” is offered a two-year, post-doctoral opportunity at the University of Michigan shortly following their engagement. Rather than create unnecessary drama (and since they are each other’s soul mates), Tom quickly decides to leave his high-paying job to follow Violet from San Diego to the colder climates of Michigan.

“The Five Year Engagement,” co-written by Segel and Nicholas Stoller, who also directed the film, is a wonderful take on the events that may or may not happen in between engagement and actual marriage.

With new developments in furthering each other’s careers, the surprising pregnancy and marriage of friends or siblings and the unfortunate death of grandparents, Tom and Violet’s relationship is tested but never manages to break.

However, as time passes in Michigan and Violet is offered an extension, Tom slowly starts to realize what opportunities he has given up and falls into a slight depression.

The movie makes you laugh (a lot), cry, connect with real-life experiences and feel a mixture of emotions throughout its somewhat lengthy 124-minute span. Yes, the movie feels dragged out in some parts, but with the aforementioned myriad of experiences, it makes it worth the wait.

Oh, and don’t worry, if that New Year’s party sounds awesome, you get to see it at least five times (they probably could have cut that down).

This is the third production co-written by Segel and Stoller (in addition to 2011’s “The Muppets” and 2010’s “Get Him to the Greek”). Though Segel added “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” to his repertoire in 2008 (and is one of my personal favorites), the collaboration between the two seems like anything they touch will turn to gold – at least in terms of rich character development or strong storytelling.

Chris Pratt and Alison Brie, who play Tom’s best friend and Violet’s sister, respectively, shine in this production. Brie, who veils her normal quirky manner with an emotional British dialect, is a strong support system for Violet during her dilemmas and helps her see what paths she should truly take. Pratt just pulls off that goofball charm, much like his “Parks and Rec” counterpart Andy Dwyer, but distinguishes himself enough to make this character lovable.

I went into this film with high expectations, since I was absolutely overwhelmed (in a good way) with “The Muppets,” and I left with a smile on my face and a desire to see it again. Now only if going to the movies wasn’t so expensive…

Final Grade: A

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