Movies: The Five-Year Engagement

Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Written By: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Universal Pictures
R; 124 min
3.75 stars (out of 5)


A movie about doughnuts!

(If you don't know why I'm excited, you clearly haven't read my reviews of Parade's End.)

In truth, this little romantic comedy is fairly routine. Tom (Segel) and Violet (Blunt) get engaged a year after they first meet. But the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune conspire to prevent them from planning their wedding. Things really begin to fall apart when Violet gets accepted to a Ph.D. program . . . in Michigan, a far cry from San Francisco. Like a good fiancé, Tom agrees to leave his solid job as a sous chef in a popular restaurant for this seemingly temporary, two-year limbo in the frozen wasteland that is Michigan. But he fails to find a job as a chef, having to settle for making sandwiches at a local deli instead.

Where, you ask, are the doughnuts? Well, they are an integral part of Violet's work in the psychology program, where the ongoing experiment is designed to test participants' will power by leaving them in a room with stale, day-old doughnuts. The participants are told fresh doughnuts will be coming in 20 minutes. Will the subjects wait? Or go for old pastries?

The whole thing becomes a metaphor for Tom's and Violet's relationship. Are you happy with what you have, or do you hold out for something better?

In the way of romantic comedies, things get worse before they get better. The Five-Year Engagement is longer than most rom-coms, but that's because it fully explores the relationship. More than a typical "funny honey" flick, this one has a realism to it uncommon to current, more popular entries into the genre. It resonated more with me because it spoke to my experience. It wasn't laugh-out-loud funny, no, but it was sweet and true. I only docked it some star points for lack of laughs.

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