Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Five-Year Engagement (FILM REVIEW)

The Five-Year Engagement
Film Review by Kam Williams

Wedding Delays Strain Relationship in Raunchy Romantic Comedy    

            This underwhelming sitcom has been heavily promoted as “From the producer of Bridesmaids,” as if to imply that Judd Apatow has a golden touch that ensures the success of any movie project he’s blessed. However, the undisputed King of Crude has been associated with just about as many flops (ala Wanderlust and Year One) as hits (like Superbad and Knocked Up).
            Unfortunately, The Five-Year Engagement fits more in the former category than the latter. Remember how the hilarious Bridesmaids kept you howling from begging to end in spite of yourself? Well, don’t expect to laugh out loud even once while watching this relatively-funereal, two-hour endurance test.
            Yes, the film does certainly trade in all of the anticipated Apatow staples, if that sophomoric brand of humor suits your taste. There’s the gratuitous male nudity, the coarse jokes with profanity serving as punch lines (“Suck my bleeping bleep!”), and such suggestive sight gags as a character simulating sex by gyrating his hips behind a carrot dipped in whipped cream. Much of this comic relief arrives courtesy of an ethnically-diverse support team comprised of an Asian (Randall Park), an East Indian (Mindy Kaling) and an African-American (Kevin Hart).
            Besides the skits falling flat, the tortoise-paced picture has bigger problems in an abysmal script and romantic leads with no screen chemistry. The oil-and-water casting of loose cannon Jason Segel opposite prim-and-proper Emily Blunt has disaster written all over it.
            His Tom Solomon’s a Sous-chef who dreams of opening a restaurant in San Francisco, while her Violet Barnes is a recent Ph.D. with hopes of landing a teaching position at Berkeley in Psychology. Just past the opening credits, she accepts his marriage proposal and puts on the ring, although they both agree that it might be wise to delay tying the knot until their careers have had a chance to blossom. That decision doesn’t sit well with their aging relatives, but at least it means they won’t have to decide right away whether to be married by a minister or a rabbi.
            As time passes, the protagonists find additional excuses to postpone the nuptials, like when her sister Suzie (Alison Brie) is left pregnant after a one-night stand with his best friend, Alex (Chris Pratt). Eventually, Violet and Tom drift so far apart that it’s not much of a surprise when she sleeps with the head of her department (Rhys Ifans) or when he’s seduced behind the salad bar by a cute, young co-worker (Dakota Johnson).
            “Can this relationship be saved?” may be the burning question. But don’t expect to care when you’ve never really been asked to invest emotionally in such an unsympathetic pair of hesitant hedonists.
            Make it stop!

Fair (1 star)
Rated R for sexuality, nudity, coarse humor and pervasive profanity.
Running time: 124 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures 

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