Director/writer Nicholas Stoller and actor Jason Segel have become quite the Hollywood dynamic duo.
They first worked together a decade ago on the undeservedly short-lived TV series Undeclared and have since gone from strength to strength with Forgetting Sarah Marshall in 2008, last year's The Muppets and now the sweet, if slight, The Five-Year Engagement, an enjoyable paean to the wonders and woes of romantic commitment.
Segel is Tom Solomon, a San Francisco chef who -- unlike so many of the half-formed men who populate rom-coms and slob-coms these days -- is ready to put a ring on it shortly after he meets-cute with Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt) at a New Year's Eve party. But then the walk down the aisle gets delayed after she gets a dream-job offer -- in Michigan.
He gives up his burgeoning career for hers and, though he puts on a brave face, it's eating him up inside. Meanwhile, she senses him pulling away and becomes perhaps a little too close to her new boss (Rhys Ifans) -- something that leads to a foot chase through the snowy streets of Ann Arbor that's one of the film's highlights.
How Tom and Violet emotionally find their way back to each other is at the heart of The Five-Year Engagement, and there's certainly no surprise at how things turn out.
What makes the film work is the chemistry between Segel and Blunt. Segel may not be ripped like Channing Tatum but he is completely relatable, and Blunt possesses a sense of vulnerability that eludes many of her female romantic-comedy contemporaries. (Paging Katherine Heigl.)
Chris Pratt ( Parks and Recreation), as Tom's goofy best friend, does a good job as a junior Paul Rudd. But Oscar-nominated Australian actress Jacki Weaver doesn't get much to do as Violet's mom.
At just over two hours, The Five-Year Engagement is too long and only occasionally comes to full comedic boil.
Judd Apatow co-produced, but the film doesn't go for the big, raunchy laughs in the same way that some of his projects -- like Bridesmaids or Superbad -- did. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, as there's a tenderness at the heart of The Five-Year Engagement that's hard to resist.
By the end of it, you just want to see Tom and Violet -- and, by extension, Stoller and Segel -- make their relationship work.