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Five-Year Engagement will have Segel fans saying, “I do.”
In his latest film, Jason Segel is back to give audiences a peek at what lies beneath his clothing—though, thankfully, not quite to the degree of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In The Five-Year Engagement, the recent release from director Nicholas Stoller and the prolific producer Judd Apatow, Segel’s signature humor and the film’s raunchy writing transform a movie whose title could very easily be mistaken for your run-of-the-mill rom-com into a genuinely funny, ballsy comedy that is exactly what we would expect from that trio.
Starring Hollywood’s favorite oaf and Emily Blunt as his British fiancée, Engagement takes up a subject that many romantic comedies tend to roll the credits on. As you can guess from the title, the film tells the story of the betrothed Tom (Segel), a San Fran sous-chef, and Violet (Blunt), a psychology grad student who is looking at programs in Michigan, as they spend an extended period planning their wedding. As what was planned to be a two-year engagement grows even longer, the pair’s story creates the atypical romance, but classic Apatow film by playing up the couple’s natural chemistry with a steady supply of awkward situations and punch lines. In one scene, Tom has taken on the daunting task of planning the wedding so that Violet can focus on her research. Tom and his coworker Bill are picking out the floral arrangement for the ceremony when they come across flowers that sound similar to “penis.” The guys joke ambiguously about the size of the white and black flowers with the unsuspecting clerk, until Bill juts in with a raunchy comment that ends the scene instantly.
The casting and use of supporting characters can make or break a comedy, and thankfully it’s the former in the case of Engagement. Suckers for Segel’s kiddish innocence will also be delighted by the array of co-stars, including The Office’s Mindy Kaling, actor-comedian Kevin Hart, Parks and Rec’s Chris Pratt, and Big Lake’s Chris Parnell, who delivers the best of the secondary performances as the incredibly awkward, sweater-knitting Bill. These characters not only serve to make the film into a bona fide quirk-fest, but it also often turns the plot away in exchange for pushpin humor. At Tom and Violet’s engagement party, Pratt’s character, who is very similar to the dimwitted Andy he plays on Parks and Recreation, opens up. “This engagement party is a moment to celebrate a future… but not without first exploring a past.” He then proceeds to belt out a laundry list of Tom’s previous sexual partners to the tune of “We Didn’t Start The Fire.”
The film, though overflowing with humor, occasionally meanders too far away from its goals, as it brims with spur-of-the-moment and disjointed characters. This style, which is standard for anything produced by Apatow, tends to be hit-or-miss for many audiences. However, the steady stream of jokes, on top of the infallible, puppyish smile of Segel, will keep most viewers hooked until the end.
Apatow critics aside, The Five-Year Agreement is a solid, laughter-filled choice if you’ve been longing for a comedy on par with the classic bromance I Love You, Man, if you’re in support of the cheeky humor brought about by recent comedies such as Bridesmaids or Horrible Bosses, or if you are simply enraptured by Segel’s teddybear demeanor. But if you’re looking for a good, clean ballgame of a movie, be warned—this film will feel like it lasts five years.