Directed by Nicholas Stoller
We meet Segel’s Tom Solomon as he’s awkwardly proposing to his longtime girlfriend Violent (Emily Blunt), and they certainly seem like such a perfect couple, so what could possibly go wrong? If you’re going into the movie knowing nothing, you may be surprised how long it takes to set-up the general premise of this wedding that keeps being put on hold for different reasons as a wedge gets driven into Tom and Violet’s relationship once they move to Michigan and Violet gets deeper into her work developing an experiment involving stale donuts, while being overtly hit on by her charismatic supervisor, played by Rhys Ifans. Meanwhile, Tom lets his beard grow and takes up hunting with odd new local friends, played by Chris Parnell and Brian Posehn (a highly underrated comic who is finally used in a movie to show off his full potential).
Lots of couples may be able to relate to trying to manage two careers and the sacrifices we make for the one we love, although the marketing is a bit of a fake-out in making people think that this is another “Bridesmaids” and is about the disastrous lead-up to a wedding which isn’t really the case at all.
Segel and Blunt work well together, although you may wonder if Segel made the movie simply to get any excuse he can to make out with the comely British actress. Good on him if that’s the case, because it worked! Segel takes on more of a straight-man role for this one, allowing Chris Pratt to steal many scenes as Tom’s best friend Alex who has sex with Violet’s sister (Pratt’s NBC-mate Alison Brie from “Community”) at their engagement party and finds himself married with a kid on the way. There’s actually quite a lot of laughs to be found in the supporting cast including Violet’s fellow psych grad students, played by Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling and lesser-known Randall Park.
For the amount of characters and ideas and subplots that are squeezed into two hours, Stoller does a fine job finessing it into a movie that offers just as much entertainment value as “Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek,” even if it’s lacking some of the quirky imperfections of those movies. It also ends up being somewhat more predictable since the simpler story only leaves a few places where things can go. This includes the point when it enters darker and more dramatic territory as Violet and Tom’s relationship starts to crumble. Because the laughs haven’t been nearly as consistent up until that point, it might take people out of the movie entirely.
One minor quibble is that for a story taking place over five years, it’s surprising how little the characters seem to change over the course of the movie, other than a funky backwoods beard Segel grows for the middle act. One would think the passage of time would be hugely important, but other than having Violet’s sister and Alex show up from time to time with their kids, all the characters remain exactly the same, This is one place where Stoller could have learned something from Drake Doremus’ “Like Crazy” which makes you feel the passage of time without dragging.
Some may wonder why the movie keeps returning to Violet’s donut experiment, which isn’t exactly great material for a thesis or for humor, but be patient, because it does play a large part in the pay-off, and the film’s ending is surprisingly satisfying even if it ends in a rather obvious place.
The Bottom Line: