Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Five-Year Engagement

Maybe because I'm seeing these movies at the right time in my life, but I love this sort of age of Apatow comedy. I know, who am I to say that there is a new age of comedy all because of one man, but I remember just about every R-rated filthy mouthed, raunchy comedy pre-The 40 Year Old Virgin as just being some sort of teenage sex romp. Then comedies came along with as much heart and story as they were funny- Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Bridesmaids and others such as Role Models, I Love You Man, and Horrible Bosses. I'm being general with my acceptance of all of these movies into one large category, but it is nice to see a great movie-making maturity to laugh-out-loud comedy ratio. The Five-Year Engagement from director/co-writer Nicholas Stoller and co-writer/actor Jason Segel (both of Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame) thankfully joins those comedies with its exploration of not just falling in love, but what happens after.

The film follows Tom Solomon (Segel) and Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt) who become engaged at the height of their love for each other in San Francisco. Tom is a sous-chef at a very successful restaurant and Violet is an academic psychologist. Violent unfortunately can't find a job out in California, but she is able to secure a position in Michigan. Tom and her decide to hold off on their wedding as they re-locate, Tom has trouble finding work, the relationship hits some bumps, and like the best of comedies, the events only build and build and build up from there.

Along with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I'm amazed at how much Segel and Stoller are able to create a film that almost has a wandering-aimlessly quality to it. They don't completely throw structure out the window, but they give scenes and sequences the ability to move along in an unpredictable fashion and the two are funny and clever enough to be able to keep the movie's arc and core direction intact. The end has a bit of a meandering quality to it as a "will-they, won't-they" sort of storyline takes place, but ultimately due to the premise of exploring this couple's five years together, it ends up fitting into the film quite nicely.

As usual with Apatow productions, the ensemble of supporting characters step in to help the protagonists through their dilemmas and this film has quite a pedigree of scene-stealers in namely Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, and Rhys Ifans, but also with Jacki Weaver, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Randall Park, Brian Posehn, and Chris Parnell. Simply put, chalk up another win for adult comedies in this post-40 Year Old Virgin world my brain seems to recognize.

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