Miss this Engagement

Jason Segel and Judd Apatow should have called off The Five-Year Engagement.

The Five-Year Engagement finds cowriter and star Jason Segel reuniting with his Forgetting Sarah Marshall producer, Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad), and director, Nicholas Stoller. And while there are the laughs you would expect and a touch of sweetness, for the most part, Engagement joins the heap of sporadically entertaining, forgettable romantic comedies.

Segel and Emily Blunt are Tom and Violet, a devoted San Francisco couple whose plan to tie the knot is complicated when Violet is accepted to the psychology graduate program at the University of Michigan. Tom, a talented chef on the verge of getting his own restaurant, decides to do the noble thing and sacrifice his career in the short term to help his fiancée pursue her dream.

As they must, things go very well for her and rather poorly for him. While Violet is winning the admiration of her professor and mentor (Rhys Ifans, Notting Hill), Tom has to settle for a job as a sandwich maker in a deli run by an alcoholic.

The Five-Year Engagement mines for laughs through too-quirky characters and outlandish situations. A coworker/buddy shows a film of Tom’s past lovers during the latter’s engagement party. Chris Parnell shows up in his typical weirdo mode as a faculty husband who knits his own horrible outerwear and teaches Tom how to be a hunter. This begets the most forced section of the film, as Tom takes to becoming a bearded, venison-eating mountain man to deal with his insecurities. A running joke shows elderly relatives of the couple passing away over the years before Tom and Violet can tie the knot. The talented, charismatic Kevin Hart (who also starred in the slightly better Think Like a Man) is given a poorly written role as a fellow student of Violet who is obsessed with studies that involve masturbation.

Similar to Think Like a Man (which also features an aspiring chef and his food truck), The Five-Year Engagement is sprinkled with funny moments. But it’s still a collection of scenes rather than an engaging story. As such, it might have worked as modest entertainment of low ambition were it not for the bloated running time (124 minutes). A movie this mediocre and predictable has no business taking over two hours to get to its inevitable ending.

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