- Last Updated: 1:49 PM, April 27, 2012
- Posted: 10:16 PM, April 26, 2012
THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT
Viva Emily! Running time: 124 minutes. Rated R (sex, partial nudity, profanity and raunchy humor). At the Empire, the Lincoln Square, the Battery Park City, others.
Emily Blunt brings a much-needed dose of reality — and palpable chemistry with Jason Segel — to the Judd Apatow school of raunchy screen comedy with the sweet and smart “The Five-Year Engagement.’’
It might not have as many gut-busting laughs as “Bridesmaids,’’ but there are still plenty — and for once in Apatow’s phallocentric universe, most of them don’t come at the expense of female characters.
Blunt, the spiky British actress who has brightened many films since her breakthrough in “The Devil Wears Prada,’’ plays Violet, a smart, determined psychology graduate student who doesn’t let love get in the way of her career plans.
Shortly after their engagement, her financé, Tom (Segel), a sous chef at an upscale San Francisco restaurant, gives up dreams of his own place there to move with her to Michigan, where she’s been accepted into a coveted two-year postgraduate program.
Violet shines under the program’s leader, Winton (Rhys Ifans), despite the best efforts of a a wacky trio of classmates (Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling and Randall Park, all quite funny).
Tom, though, finds the only employer interested in his talents is a hippie sandwich shop.
Bonding with his eccentric co-workers (Brian Posehn, Chris Parnell), he grows a scruffy beard, smokes a lot of weed and develops various other tics that begin driving a wedge between him and Violet.
As wedding plans keep getting endlessly postponed — the passage of the half-decade is marked by the funerals of all four of her grandparents — Violet finds herself drawn to the charismatic Winton.
And in turn, Winton contrives to keep her in Michigan with a job at the university after the program ends.
Adding to Violet and Tom’s frustration over their perpetually delayed nuptials is the whirlwind courtship between his alpha-male former boss (Chris Pratt) and Emily’s sister (Alison Brie), who wed shortly after she becomes pregnant.
There are thankfully fewer penis jokes than in your typical Apatow production.
Segel’s anatomy is not as graphically exposed as it was in his previous collaboration with director Nicholas Stoller, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’’ though we do get an extended glimpse of his butt.
“The Five-Year Engagement’’ is far more relatable than your typical Apatow man-boy fable — Violet is much more than just a fantasy prop for the romantic Tom.
This seems like another breakthrough for Blunt, who demonstrates an ample gift for physical comedy. She and Segel make an inspired team.
Like most of Apatow’s productions, “The Five-Year Engagement’’ is about a half-hour too long.
But this one has a payoff that makes it worth the wait.