"THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT — ★★1/2 — Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Rhys Ifans; R (sexual content and language throughout); in general release
Emily Blunt and Jason Segel step into the roles of Violet and Tony, who are deeply in love and have just become engaged.
"The Five-Year Engagement" opens with Tony staging an elaborate presentation of the ring that, while ultimately successful, doesn't exactly come off without a hitch.
But all is well, and the planning for the nuptials begins.
Tony is a gifted chef in a prestigious restaurant in San Francisco; Violet is pursuing her education and career in academia.
Just as the wedding plans are gelling, Violet gets a great opportunity in the cold Midwest. Tony magnanimously says, "I can be a cook anywhere," and everything is put on hold as the couple travels to Michigan, where Violet flourishes but Tony struggles. It seems high-end, high-paying restaurant opportunities aren't as plentiful in the land of ice and snow. Nobody in the industry can believe he'd leave the dining mecca of San Francisco for Michigan.
After being literally laughed out of bistro after bistro, Tony finally ends up making sandwiches in a local deli.
Meanwhile, Violet is doing very well and finds herself the protégé of a professor played by Rhys Ifans, and his attentions may not be totally focused on her academic well being. More opportunities open for Violet and in frustration, Tony starts to go native, growing his beard, taking up hunting and, generally, letting himself go, all to the dismay of his fiancée, friends and family.
The rocky road ahead seems to be primed for a breakup. But will true love prevail?
If you like "Bridesmaids," much has been made of the fact that this offering comes from the same producers. But "Bridesmaids" is a much better film with tighter writing, more sympathetic characters and, believe it or not, more restraint — especially with sexuality.
"The Five Year Engagement" certainly has its charm and even a sweet, well-intended story. But it relies far too much on awkward steaminess.
Blunt and Segel ultimately come through with doey-eyed appeal, and an eclectic supporting cast adds intriguing layers. But it's never a good thing when a movie is not only long, but feels even longer. I had to remind myself occasionally that it only took five years, not 10, to get to a fun, entertaining and — yes, even a little bit sappy — conclusion.
"The Five-Year Engagement" is rated R for sexual content and language throughout; running time: 124 minutes.