Well, I was all ready to rip my sides open with laughter when I attended a special screening for The Five-Year Engagement last night. Alas, as my SAT tutor used to tell me, there is such a thing as ‘too much preparation’. I didn’t bust a gut during this latest comic caper from “the producers of Bridesmaids” (as the promos happily inform us). In fact, I barely cracked a wry smile.
Now don’t get me wrong: the movie is humorous. After all, what’s funnier than two people in a relationship who can’t seem to figure “it” out because, well, neither one even knows what “it” is, much less who the other person is. Human misery (especially the kind inflicted on the unwilling) is effing hysterical.
Or it should be. The movie tells the story of a sweet and (for all intensive purposes) “normal” couple comprised of a sous chef named Tom (Jason Segel) and a doctoral candidate named Violet (Emily Blunt). They get engaged in San Francisco but are then quickly transported to Michigan where Violet sets her nose to the grindstone to become the academic she always aspired to be. Tom accepts a job at a deli where’s he’s essentially The World’s Most Overqualified Sandwich Maker, which is a damper because now they have to stay even longer as Violet is asked to do some post-doctoral research. They’re still engaged, right?
On top of all this, Violet’s sister gets pregnant with Tom’s buffoon of a best friend – and for some reason, this messed up couple with a bastard child is able to get their nuptials done with greater ease and decisiveness than Tom and Violet.
Other circumstances arise that force them to postpone the wedding, most of which are purely incidental and really don’t have anything to do with their relationship. By the end of it all, (if you’re anything like me) you have your credit card in hand so you can buy them a one-way ticket to Vegas just to get the deed done already. It gets old and frustrating pretty fast – just like Violet and Tom’s relationship.
Blunt and Segel are pretty charming throughout (as you might expect them to be) but they are saddled with a drama that wants to be a comedy and this proves to be their undoing. The misery of human relationships may be funny to witness as an non-invested spectator, but watching two actors play comedy in a drama is downright tragic. Judd Apatow should know better. Stick to one genre, Judd!