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Published on May 11th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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In Theaters Now #1: The Five-Year Engagement


By Danny Simon

I got lucky the other night, well kinda. Romantic comedies generally follow a predictable course; there is the meeting of an unlikely couple, the “getting-to-know-you” montage, the cumming together, the falling apart, and the big happy double reach around ending. Like crack cocaine or chocolate, rom-coms are designed to momentarily distract us from our comparably imperfect lives in which we don’t look, talk or fuck like the movie stars on the screen. Ironically, the distraction offered by rom-coms fuels a sense of dissatisfaction so we need more distraction and then poof, we’re stuck in a rom-com downward death spin cycle which retards the audience just a bit more with every incarnation.

From Moonlighting to Friends in one generation. Will Ross ever get Rachel? Looking back ten years on, who fucking cares? I got lucky cause I took a date to see the Five Year Engagement. And we both got what we needed out of the experience, and this is no small thing considering how many rom-coms are forced upon the innocent every year. I laughed. She cried. It’s like what Poison’s C.C. Deville once said to my friend Tim when we were teenagers, “There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, and blood makes a good lubricant.”

The premise of the story requires the audience to suspend disbelief almost to the point required byJames Cameron’s The Abyss. Jason Segel’s Tom, a nebbish beta male chef somehow enchants the academic goddess Violet, played by Emily Blunt. We accept this, but looking back we had to have been as high as Segel seems throughout the film. There are some really embarrassing moments for the young actor where his weak earnestness barely cloaks a vapid detachment. This might just be Segel’s worst performance ever, while it is one of Blunt’s best. Moving beyond her standard roles where her beauty is almost antagonistic, Blunt displays a wondrous understated dead pan wit and a strong emotional engagement.  She’s really funny, and sometimes Segel is too, but they’re both simply simply outgunned by the comedians of the supporting cast, each of whom gets an appropriate amount of time to shine. Chris Pratt and Alison Brie are experts in stretching jokes out from strange to sweet. Mindy Kaling can hold a joke unflinchingly just to the point of cruelty. Brian Posehn rips awkward farts and we are forced to slowly inhale them.

There are so many comic gems in this film that almost distract us from the faulty premise and the lack of chemistry between the couple. I didn’t care when they broke up because they weren’t 100 percent right for each other, or even 90 percent right for each other. And I didn’t care when they got back together at the end. By the way, if after five years, you’re bitching cause your partner is only 90percent right for you, you deserve the tongue lashing Tom gets from his mother over breakfast, something like, “You’re a fucking idiot. Your father is the love of my life and we’re barely sixty 50 percent right for each other.” Amen.

 

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