1. Ryan Gosling in The Ides of March (2011) with George Clooney
2. George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven (2001) with Brad Pitt
3. Brad Pitt in Moneyball (2011) with Chris Pratt
4. Chris Pratt in The Five-Year Engagement (2012)
Ides is like my old crutch! (Warning: mild spoilers ahead)
The Five-Year Engagement is a love story about Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt). Toward the end of the movie, Violet’s sister Suzie (Alison Brie) is trying to convince Violet to get back together with Tom. But instead of the typical “wise sister” confrontation scene, the characters have a fight in the voices of Elmo and Cookie Monster. The scene sounds outrageous, but it is actually sweet and reveals a lot about the characters that a more conventional scene could not have. It is a scene about the bond that the two sisters share, but also about the relationship that Violet might be losing. Other scenes involve characters getting shot with crossbows and drinking out of cups compared to a “Chewbacca penis.” Engagement is outrageous yet heartfelt, and always explores romantic comedy clichés in a strange and over-the-top way.
Not to mention that the cast is in fine form here. It’s really great to see Emily Blunt return to comedy, because she has true talent when it comes to comedic timing. Plus, I’ll always have a soft spot for her performance in The Devil Wears Prada. Jason Segel and Chris Pratt are charming as schlubs, and I’m actually really excited to see where Chris Pratt‘s career goes from here. He kills it on Parks and Recreation every week, but then he goes and does strange dramatic turns like the troubled baseball player in Moneyball. But the true standout here is Alison Brie (Community and Mad Men), who I’m pretty sure is not British in real life, right? Right? She’s a real scene-stealer.
Tom and Violet encounter many obstacles in their relationship (spoiler: it’s a five-year engagement), but one of the lingering questions that the audience is left with is whether or not these two characters actually belong together. At one point in the movie, Violet designs a psychological experiment for her job as a teaching assistant. In the experiment, old donuts are left on the table with the promise of fresh donuts in 20 minutes. Will the test subjects eat the old donuts or wait it out for the new ones? The donut experiment becomes a metaphor for Tom and Violet’s relationship throughout the course of the movie. Tom is the more simple, realistic person in the relationship and represents the old donuts. Violet is focused on academia and success and represents the new donuts. Do these two donuts actually belong together? That is the question that is asked over and over.
There’s a lot of great moments in the movie, but unfortunately a lot of the scenes play out like an uncut DVD version. The zaniness gets out of hand and every gag seems to go on for a little too long (as many Judd Apatow-produced movies do). The first hour or so is strong enough to make the movie worthwhile, though, and the cast is obviously having fun. And if they’re having fun, why can’t we, too?