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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Movie Review - The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement (2012)
Starring Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, Mindy Kaling, Mimi Kennedy, David Paymer, Jacki Weaver, and Kevin Hart
Directed by Nicholas Stoller

I don't understand why comedies in this new century can't seem to find the money to pay for an editor.  I think Judd Apatow single-handedly harmed the genre in the last eight years or so with his inability to make the necessary trims to create a properly paced laugher.  It should come as no surprise that Mr. Apatow produced The Five-Year Engagement, yet another one of his films to clock in unnecessarily at over two hours.  It's a bummer, too, because the film is pretty goshdarn charming.  Yes, it's an R-rated flick and has its moments of raunch, but there's some serious heart here and the comedy stems naturally from those realistic and sometimes touching moments (which, I'll admit, is the one thing Apatow does really well).  And yet the producers and co-writer/director Nicholas Stoller make me have to knock this down a few notches because it just doesn't know how to move things along.

Co-writer and Muppet lover Jason Segel is Tom who meets the lovely Violet (Emily Blunt) at a New Years' Eve costume party.  After dating a year, Tom pops the question to Violet who immediately accepts and the two begin the process of planning their wedding.  A few unforeseen circumstances present a few roadblocks, the biggest of which is Violet's acceptance into the University of Michigan's graduate program for psychology.  Tom, who has a great job as a chef in their current home city San Francisco, agrees to move with Violet for the two years it will take for her to complete the program.  Two years, however, turns into a bit more and Tom finds himself wallowing in disappointment unable to find ways to better himself and his career in the small 'burbs of Michigan.  While they don't call off the wedding, their planning for the event shifts to the wayside as Violet's schooling takes precedence.

Part of the film's problem, however, is that the time spent in Michigan could have been condensed by at least thirty minutes, if not a little more.  While I enjoyed the many (many) side characters that the writers introduced, they were completely unnecessary and literally did nothing to advance the plot.  At a certain point, the scissors need to come out and the trimming needs to be made, but this is the whole Apatow attitude and mindset and it's why I've really never found myself loving many of the films he's had his hands in (Step Brothers and Bridesmaids being two notable exceptions).

Segel and Blunt (whom I admittedly find incredibly charming and attractive) work very well together which for some reason surprised me.  Perhaps it was wrong of me to think the two actors wouldn't connect at all, but they proved to have nice chemistry.  Alison Brie and Chris Pratt are also given sizable supporting roles as Violet's sister and Tom's friend, respectively, who meet at Tom and Violet's engagement party and end up marrying each other soon after.  Both known best for their work on NBC sitcoms, Brie and Pratt were certainly nice additions to the cast.  And the rest of the supporting cast is also fairly top notch, but unfortunately most of them, as mentioned above, just didn't need to be in the movie.

I really wanted to give this movie a better rating.  There were moments while watching it where I thought this was quite possibly the best movie I had seen so far in 2012 (it's been a really weak year thus far).  And then the second hour hits and the film bogs itself down with extra characters and a more dramatic tone and it loses me.  Granted, it didn't lose me completely -- there's still much about this film to enjoy -- but it makes me wonder whether I should head out to Hollywood for an editing job.  There must be positions open since films like this don't seem to utilize that role to its fullest potential.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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