LISTEN UP, GENTLEMEN: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller have fixed the romantic comedy. It's safe now. Really.
If you didn't see Forgetting Sarah Marshall—the very funny 2008 comedy the writer/actor and director made together—this could come as a shock. That movie turned the chick flick on its ear via gross-out gags, silly puppets, and legitimately sweet sad-guy moping. Now they've made The Five-Year Engagement, which takes a step further into the black heart of the beast.
Here's the bad stuff: The Five-Year Engagement is about an engagement. That last five years. Eurgh. There's poisonous wedding talk from beginning to end. In fact, the whole damn movie revolves around planning a wedding, in this case between Tom (Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt). Tom leaves behind his promising job as a chef in San Francisco in order to move with Violet to Ann Arbor, where she's been accepted for the doctorate program in psychology. They keep putting off the wedding until everything is just right, but of course everything is never just right, and soon Tom finds himself working behind the counter of a deli, sporting a walrus mustache and a slow-burning resentment at the position he's put himself in to support his fiancée.
But for all its touchy-feely romantic mush (can't you two crazy kids just work it out??), Engagement is casually, irresistibly funny, even as it repeatedly sets up and punctures the type of romantic fantasy that fuels lesser chick flicks. The supporting cast—Chris Pratt, Brian Posehn, Alison Brie doing an English accent (swoon!), David Paymer (Paymer!)—is excellent. And, goddammit, Engagement's touching as well, right up to an ending that's both obvious and sweet. I was suckered, gents, and you will be, too. There, it feels good to admit it. Now I'm off to watch The Bridge on the River Kwai and not shave for a week.