Given the fact that “The Five Year Engagement” is from the creative team – director and co-writer Nicholas Stoller, costar and co-writer Jason Segel, and producer Judd Apatow – that brought us “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” I was expecting something raunchier. Instead, what we have here is a wistful, somewhat overextended but occasionally sweet comedy about a couple that can’t – in more ways than one – quite get it together.
Tom (Segel), a sous-chef at an upscale San Francisco restaurant, and Violet (Emily Blunt), a psychology grad student, meet cute at a New Year’s Eve party –she’s dressed as Lady Di, he as a pink bunny – and rapidly become a twosome headed for the altar. But when she is offered an attractive two-year postdoc fellowship in Michigan, they decide to make the move and hold off on the wedding. Tom essentially gives up his career for her, although the film makes it seem as if the only good jobs for a top chef in Michigan are making deli sandwiches. (The swipes at Michigan in this film don’t stop there – their Chamber of Commerce should sue.)
Tom, who spends his newfound time smoking venison and growing mutton chops, comes across as so “understanding” that he’s almost stunted, so it’s something of a relief to us, if not to Violet, when he finally explodes. What keeps the film from seeming shrill is that Tom and Violet, despite everything, genuinely love each other, and their careers dilemma is not played for easy laughs. Grade: B (Rated R for sexual content, and language throughout.)