It has many good scenes but it’s overrun by a litter of misshapen material and hackneyed coincidences. The Five-Year Engagement is for that twenties and thirties crowd of today who can identify putting relationship plans on wait at the expense of professional or school obligations. Jason Segal, as Tom, passes an opportunity to become head chef of a restaurant in San Francisco to move to frigid Michigan so that his fiancée Emily Blunt, as Violet, can pursue her PhD. Some of their problems and concerns rings of truth, but convoluted plot hazards and disruptions pile on. So do scenes that feel like sketch TV. Embarrassing sex scenes reaffirm that American movies like portraying sex as a farce, not with truth, honesty, intimacy or excitement. The ending of the movie is a corker, though.
Segal co-wrote the screenplay with the director Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” was their previous success), and perhaps the two of them were feeling so invincible that they figured they could just do as much as they want with their movie and nobody would mind. They didn’t figure that ridiculous overload could ruin a project.
Blunt is missing the sarcastic zing of her best characters from “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” or “The Devil Wears Prada,” playing a psych student who puts together an unconvincing donut experiment at her Michigan University. Tom goes through some regressive changes when he relocates for her. Some close calls to tying the knot, but typical rom-com obstacles keep them from getting hitched. Tom and Violet both get contrived temptations at infidelity that leans on the inexplicable.
Real people everyday make mistakes with infidelity. But Tom and Violet make mistakes only movie characters manage to do. Their problems are on TV sitcom autopilot.
Many supporting characters aren’t exactly believable, but Chris Pratt (the insecure first baseman in “Moneyball”) and Alison Brie (TV’s “Community”) are swell as the best man and maid of honor who dig each other.
“Engagement” was a great idea, but sometimes it feels like it’s covering more ground than just five years. You’ll get through it OK if you’re into this type of movie. You’ll have some big laughs. But you’ll want to also play the job of editor, mentally cutting out scenes that don’t fit.
124 Minutes. Rated R.
ROMANTIC COMEDY / MINDLESS PLEASURES / WEEKEND CUDDLE MOVIE
Film Cousins: “Muriel’s Wedding” (1994); “The Family Stone” (2005); “Going the Distance” (2011); “Bridesmaids” (2011).