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The Five Year Engagement

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Went to see The Five Year Engagement  Sunday with my son, and was glad I opted for a movie over dinner in a restaurant with the mother mobs.

I always forget, and hereby vow to remember, how great it is to see comedies in a movie theater, for several reasons. Most important, at other kinds of movies—dramas, documentaries, even simple love stories—I inevitably fall asleep. This comes of not sleeping well at night, so the minute I let my exhausted body sit still for more than two minutes, it collapses into a blissful state of REM. But at funny movies the audience keeps me awake with laughter. And if the movie is really funny, my own laughter keeps me going.

Film comedy has improved in the past decade, maybe more.  They used to be much stupider, aimed, like everything else, at kids; but moviemakers seem to have discovered you can be funny and still have a double digit age and a triple digit IQ. Other than Woody Allen, the most genuinely funny film I’ve seen as a grownup was The Wedding Crashers, so maybe the improvement started then. On the other hand, maybe I’m not as smart as I think or pretend to be—I’m the only person on the planet who thought Ishtar, made in the mid-70’s, was a scream.

The Five Year Engagement was done by the producers of Bridesmaids, which right away is a great reference. Engagement turns on one simple plot point. A madly-in-love couple get engaged with the best of intentions, begin planning their wedding, but get sidetracked, as the title implies, when she’s accepted into an academic program at the University of Michigan. Did I mention they live in San Francisco? And that he’s an up-and-coming chef in this gourmet city?

Thinking it’s no big deal, that they’re so in love they can handle anything (uh-huh) they put off their commitment date for what they expect will be  two years. Then life takes unexpected turns and things get more complicated.  The relationship starts to crumble before it can even begin.

The film is rated R, but don’t get excited…the sex is minimal. To compensate, most of it was shot in San Francisco. I have only one criticism: if they wanted Van Morrison songs for the soundtrack, why not Van himself and not covers?

I went into the theater stressed out from my daily life without even knowing I was; by the time the film ended I was as relaxed as after 3 days in Costa Rica, my mind having been transported, and laughter having shook the tension from my body. It’s fine to watch heavy dramas and intellectual fare at home, the bed nearby  and only 3 bucks wasted–or a chance to do a re-run at breakfast. But for ten bucks forced into an upright position, I’ll take laughter every time.


2 responses »

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