Plan to Skip This Five-Year Engagement
- Susan Ellingburg Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2012 27 Apr
DVD Release Date: September 4, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: April 27, 2012
Rating: R (for sexual content, and language throughout)
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Run Time: 124 min.
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Actors: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following review contains discussion of mature subject matter and is not suitable for young readers. Parents please be advised.
Before getting into the plot, the acting, and so on, there is something you should know up front: when you see the words “this film is rated R for sexual content and language throughout,” they are not kidding.
Is it a funny movie? In many places, yes, it is absolutely hilarious. Does it have some sweet, romantic moments? Indeed it does, the kind that make you go “Awwwww.” But if you consider profanity, ongoing conversations about sex, and several scenes that are just this side of pornography to be unacceptable viewing, you don’t need to read any further: this film is not for you.
It starts so well, too, with an adorable proposal scene complete with fireworks and a killer view of San Francisco. Tom (Jason Segel, The Muppets) and Violet (Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) seem to be the perfect couple, headed toward the perfect wedding and perfect life. Sure, there’s a little hiccup when Tom’s goofy best friend Alex (Chris Pratt, Moneyball) knocks up Violet’s sister, Suzie (Alison Brie, Scream 4), but once those two are married there’s nothing to stand in between our heroes and wedded bliss. Tom, a sous chef in a top San Fran restaurant, is headed toward culinary stardom; Violet will soon be accepted into a local program and become a respected psychologist.
Except she doesn’t. Her offer is for a two-year program at the University of Michigan. Tom gives up his career to go with her (it’s just two years; he can cook anywhere) and suddenly finds himself irrelevant. Most romantic comedy plots hinge on some kind of communication breakdown and this is no exception. Tom feels emasculated by his new life in Michigan but he refuses to admit there’s a problem, taking out his aggression on not-very-realistic-looking deer (in hunting season).
Following stereotypical lines, Violet’s college advisor has no morals whatsoever. How on earth has this man avoided sexual harassment charges? Naturally, he comes between the couple, telling Violet, “It’s OK to be selfish, you’re a good person.” Seriously? What kind of twisted logic is that? It’s just one more example of the lack of respect shown by almost everyone to almost everyone. Tom’s mother even cusses out her son over breakfast. Is it supposed to be funny to show a sophisticated older woman with a potty mouth?
Fortunately, woven throughout the “hide your eyes and plug your ears” sections are some seriously hilarious moments. For example: Violet and Suzie have an intense conversation using (per a child’s request) Elmo and Cookie Monster voices—with spot-on imitations of both Muppets—turning what could have been a strident quarrel into one of the funniest movie scenes I’ve witnessed in years.
Jason Segel is the right man for the job of Tom; he radiates sensitivity while maintaining a certain teddy bear charm. You may wish he’d grow a backbone, but he’s always amiable, even in his mountain man phase. Emily Blunt plays Violet with a nice intensity, but Alison Brie is the standout with her over-the-top portrayal of Violet’s dramatic younger sister.
As the years roll on—and at times it does feel like years—Tom and Violet find more and more reasons to put off their big day. One wonders why they bother: they don’t seem to have any clear grasp of what marriage entails and they’re already living together in conjugal semi-bliss. What do they think marriage will accomplish? It’s never really clear.
Meanwhile, the two people who first seemed like the losers in the group (Alex and Suzie) manage to carve out a solid relationship as parents and partners. Refreshingly, both are deeper characters than they first appear, offering mature advice to their supposedly older and wiser friends/sibling. In the end, there is a little nod to grace. No one is perfect; we have to cut each other some slack. Once our couple learns to do that, there is some hope they may actually make it ‘till death do us part.’
- Drugs/Alcohol: Quite a bit of drinking and drunkenness at bars, parties, and at home. Violet turns to alcohol every time she has a major announcement. Character at a party admits to being an alcoholic (after downing a drink). Several characters are shown under the influence; one character discussing “pickling weed” and concludes “it was a waste of weed.” Character in hospital feels the effects of prescribed painkillers. Substance abuse is apparently par for the course for most characters.
- Language/Profanity: The f-word makes regular appearances in all its tenses and as both noun and verb, sometimes combined with “mother”; Jesus’ name used as a curse; the s-word alone and combined with bull; the b-word; pri**, bal**, and di** used to refer to male genitalia (and male characters); di** also used as a verb (****ing around); male characters frequently refer to their man parts and their size or lack thereof. Female character described as having “sagging tits and a loose vagina”. A discussion of faking orgasm after showing someone do that very thing. Attraction to woman described as sending her “telepathic weiner missiles.” A double entendre-filled conversation goes horribly wrong when one man blurts out “have you ever had a white pen** up your bu**?” Character invited to “suck my f-ing di**.” After a passionate kiss over rising bread in a kitchen, character claims to see male’s “bon** impressed in the dough.” All this language is freely used in front of small children and by a mother to her adult son. There may have been more, but audience laughter drowned out much of the dialogue.
- Sex/Nudity: Sex is a frequent topic of conversation (often described with the f-word) and couples are shown in the act in multiple positions and varied levels of intensity. Female chef character is gay and turns up with her partner. A friend shows a PowerPoint presentation of “Tom’s Past Lovers” at Tom and Violet’s engagement party. The couple lives together before marriage. A character uses a “carrot weenie” to mimic masturbation; creamy dressing is involved and it is easily the most disgusting scene in the film. Violet’s unmarried sister gets pregnant. Several female characters reveal significant amounts of upper leg and cleavage even while clothed. Tom sports an apron bearing a naked male figure (probably Michelangelo’s David) and when he turns around we see his bare behind, which makes another appearance later in the film. In a costume party scene viewers are treated to a close up of a man’s gyrating hips encased in a diaper. Violet proposes having sex on the street in the snow and invites a man’s attentions by saying she wants “something different.”
- Violence: Chef cuts off finger while chopping, blood spurts onto restaurant window. Man slips and falls while scraping ice off car window. Several (fake-looking) deer shot and killed in hunting scenes; dead deer slides off car roof and winds up seated in front seat. Child accidentally shoots woman with crossbow; shaft removed from her leg and blood shown. Men shown with guns, crossbows, and other hunting weapons. Running woman hit by opening car door (appears to suffer no lasting damage). Brief fight; man falls trying to scramble over car. Man loses toe to frostbite (oozing toe shown). Vomit in mouth, swallowed, gagging.
- Spiritual Themes: Sex is treated as a casual activity and marriage doesn’t seem to mean much, which is odd considering the couple involved has such trouble tying the knot.Violet’s dad turns up with a new trophy wife each time he appears and Suzie comments, “It’s your wedding; you only get a few of those.”