THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGMENT. Starring Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Jacki Weaver Directed by Nicholas Stoller. Rated MA 15+ (Strong sexual references and coarse language) 114 mins.
A romantic comedy, with older protagonists, and with a longer time to sort out issues of love and commitment!
The film has been produced by Jud Apatow, whose produced and/or directed films, run to a certain pattern. This one is no exception. There are usually some men and women behaving badly plotlines at first; then all seems lost, bad errors of judgment and conduct; then there is some recovery and acknowledgement of mistakes; then a firm emphasis on love and commitment. The Jud Apatow Syndrome.
It is hard not to like cook, Tom (Jason Segel) and his fiancée, Violet (Emily Blunt). He is a good chef. She is studying psychology. Then she gets an offer of a university position in Michigan (from San Francisco) and off they go, she to fulfilment of life hopes, he to being unable to get a chef’s job (and being laughed at for giving up everything for snowy Michigan). Then she gets an offer of a continued position. Is marriage really a no go?
In the background are Violet’s sister, Susan, who becomes involved with Tom’s best friend, Alex. And they settle down, against all expectations, to marriage and a family. There are also the respective parents (one of whom is Jacki Weaver as Violet’s British mother, disappointed in marriage, sometimes blunt and indiscreet) and grandparents who hope to see the couple married before they die – several of them don’t!
Academic life for Violet is helped along by Winton (Rhys Ifans), the professor, and his oddball team of assistants, thinking up tests and experiments to measure and promote their careers. Sandwich-making life for Tom is not always easy but there is an outlet in hunting deer with another homebound husband. And then some jealousy.
Where will it end? As if we didn’t know. But, as always, the point is not what happens, but how did they get there.
This is a mild comedy, smiles rather than laughs – though there are some of those – some crass jokes, as always, and some pleasant romantic scenes.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out May 3 2012.