Five-Year Engagement: funny and tender but a real drag. 

Relationships: They get messy. They fall apart. They drag on.

To that, add pratfalls, crass humor, and men as overgrown babies and you've got another Apatow production.

Which is not to say that The Five-Year Engagement — the latest from director Nick Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek), star Jason Segel, and producer Judd Apatow — isn't enjoyable, even charming. The film sets out to explore what happens after Tom (Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are engaged. It's a dose of reality and a welcome divergence from the typical romantic comedy set-up, and there are moments of real insight, even if punctuated by the predictable man-child humor you've come to expect from the producer of The Hangover, Superbad, and Anchorman.

Tom and Violet live in San Francisco — Tom working his way up the ladder in the restaurant business and Violet applying for post-doctorate fellowships for her psychology Ph.D. From the beginning — and from the film's title, in case you were paying any attention at all — it's clear this won't be the kind of one-two engagement-wedding Tom and Violet would prefer.

The first delay comes with the news that Tom's best friend Alex (Chris Pratt) has impregnated Violet's sister, Suzie (played by Community's Alison Brie), at Violet and Tom's engagement party, no less. Alex and Suzie are married in one of the most affectionate shotgun weddings you've ever seen, complete with Pratt's comically emotive rendition of "Cucurrucucú Paloma." That they never over-think their life together provides a smart foil to Violet and Tom, who are soon faced with yet another setback.

Violet is offered a spot in a post-doc program at the University of Michigan. Tom agrees to relocate with her, but as he submits his two-week notice, the head chef reveals that she had planned on putting him in charge of her new restaurant. Tom remains steadfast, choosing a life of slapping sandwiches together and scraping ice off his windshield in Michigan for the chance to stay with Violet.

Unhappy with their new life, Tom's resentment builds when Violet is offered an indefinite extension of her collegiate work. One night, Violet shares a drunken kiss with her professor, which proves the nail in the coffin for Violet and Tom's relationship. The two split for good — or so it seems.

Of course, it wouldn't be a romantic comedy without some more twists and turns. The film does drag a little at times, and there are some moments of boyish silliness (an ejaculating carrot comes to mind), but there are also some very tender, very familiar truths in the chemistry between Segel and Blunt.

One of the couple's tiffs ends with Tom saying he needs some alone time but also asking Violet to stay in bed with him. "I want to be alone, but with you here," he says. The fight is one of the funnier and more honest moments in an on-screen relationship. If you didn't think you could find that in an Apatow film, let The Five-Year Engagement change your mind.

The Five-Year Engagement

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The Five-Year Engagement
Rated R · 124 min. · 2012
Official Site:
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writer: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt, Kevin Hart, Dakota Johnson, Mindy Kaling, Mimi Kennedy and Randall Park


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