May 2, 2012

Movie Review: The Five-Year Engagement

It was only a few month ago that I was writing about a little movie called Like Crazy. It was a pretty interesting cinematic romance that doesn't follow the typical romantic comedy guidelines. This movie gave us an intimate look at a living, breathing relationship whose very existence is threatened by life itself. The reality of individual life paths come crashing down on this union. By now, I am sure you are wondering why I am talking about an Anton Yelchin film. Simple, The Five-Year Engagement follows a similar path to romance, albeit in a more absurdist fashion. It is a funny movie that touches on definite realities of trying to make a relationship work and I liked it quite a bit.

The Five-Year Engagement is a strange beast. It is a comedy/romance/drama hybrid that runs just north of two hours and never really goes anywhere. The lives of the main characters do not really have anywhere to go and they never seem to move all that fast. They are a rather bland couple who end up in some funny situations. In many ways, despite the over the top comedy, this is a very realistic movie. Bland people doing things that are not all that interesting, yet occasionally showing bits of life as they learn to deal with each other and work through the annoying intrusion of reality.

The movie follows Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt). They are a happy couple that finds the audience catching up with them a year after their (much repeated) meet-cute. They are now a newly engaged couple and are faced all manner of problems. There is the shotgun wedding of Tom's best friend, Alex (Parks and Recreation's Chris Pratt), and Violet's sister, Suzie (Community's Alison Brie), following an unexpected pregnancy. There are family intrusions and the dying of older relatives. The biggest being their divergent careers.

Tom is an up and coming chef at a major San Francisco restaurant and Violet is looking for a post-grad psychology program. Now here comes the kicker, the program she is accepted to is in Michigan, far away from the rest of his family and the majority of his career opportunities. In the effort of making everything work, they put off the wedding planning and move to Michigan.

The movie is pretty ridiculous as Tom gets sucked into small town Michigan stuff that finds him losing himself in what he finds to be a devilish land and Violet becomes rather enamored with her supervising professor (Rhys Ifans). Things spiral out of control before rebounding to its inevitable conclusion.

I really enjoyed the movie. The performances and chemistry among the cast is really quite good and helps to elevate the material to a very watchable level. It is not exactly the laugh out loud all the way through experience I was sort of expecting. Actually, it is probably better than my expectations. It is a romantic comedy that isn't afraid to allow real life issues affect the direction of the comedy. It takes those bits of reality and forms them into genuine character moments wrapped in goofy comedy.

Hopefully that makes at least a little bit of sense. Despite characters that are a touch bland and the direction a bit on the boring side, the movie works and I like the characters. Maybe I am the only one, but this is a rather entertaining, sweet natured movie where I liked spending time with the characters. Also, the Elmo/Cookie monster argument was kind of hilarious.


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