It’s usually the ending point of a romantic comedy. Whether overtly stated or merely implied, the pairing up of the two romantic leads on their way to “happily ever after” is a sort of cinematic engagement that we typically take for granted. In the Jason Segel/Nicholas Stoller-penned film The Five-Year Engagement, the big moment takes place at the start of the story, with Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) getting engaged after a year together. And it all skates downhill from there, as circumstances conspire against their walk down the aisle, even as everybody else around them pairs up and starts their new lives together.
In a particular bit of annoyance, Tom’s colleague Alex (Chris Pratt) impregnates and marries Violet’s sister, getting the start on life that Tom and Violet wish they could find for themselves. “Alex is a chef with Tom, but not nearly as good as he is,” Pratt says. “He is always screwing around and making completely sophomoric jokes about carrot wieners. When Tom and Violet decide to move to Michigan, Alex is left at the restaurant and ends up falling into the life that Tom always wanted. Over the course of five years, you see Alex go from being a low-level line cook to running the restaurant that Tom would have run. Everything that Tom’s worked for and has tried so hard to get, he sees his best friend — who he knows is not as good as him — get it very easily.”
There might be plenty of resentment onscreen from Tom to Alex, but there’s none apparent in Segel’s tone as he talks about his costar. “Chris is a comedy savant,” he says. “I’ve never been around somebody so quick and so funny. The movie started filming with a good deal of Chris and me, and it set a tone for how high the bar was raised comedically. His character is the loose-cannon friend. He’s the womanizer, and very early on in the movie, he meets Alison [Brie]’s character and gets her pregnant. It changes the course of his life. You watch him mature and become the adult in our relationship.”
The Five-Year Engagement is available starting Sept. 4 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
Photo: © 2012 Universal Studios.