Emily Blunt has grown on me. I like her versatility or at least what I have seen so far. What I would like to see less of is Jason Segel’s ass. Maybe it was funny the first time in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), if you find bum-flashing humorous, but I’m over it. OVER IT I SAY!
You know what else I am over? The ridiculous depiction of professors in popular culture. We are either social malcontents [which cuts a little close to the bone] or grandstanding show people who specialize in edutainment or in the case of Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) in Ghostbusters a little of both. [Note: I find it deeply disturbing that the spell-check did not even flinch or throw me the red-squiggle side eye for using that term. The end is near when edutainment gets the okay.] The only screen professor who is remotely believable is Dr. Maggie Walsh from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, except for the whole mutant army super soldier thing. Her surly, no-nonsense, hostile demeanor rang true; it was cathartic even. Doping her TAs . . . well even that was more believable than the antics we see on screen, large and small.
Take for example, Dave Jennings (Donald Sutherland) in Animal House, stoned, no pants, ass-flashing moment, though the cable-knit sweater is quite nice. A Beautiful Mind has Russell Crow showing up to class in his undershirt barking at his students and apparently turning on his future wife. Barbra Streisand completes her lecture on romantic love by dropping an f-bomb that makes the standing-room-only lecture hall go wild with applause in The Mirror Has Two Faces. Indiana Jones, the best dresser of the lot, flees from his students, most of whom want to sleep with him, to avoid both them and grading. [Okay, maybe the avoidance part is believable, but the tomb raider stuff, not so much.] Thank goodness there is Orlando Jones in Drumline who not only keeps his pants on, is not stoned, and does not run from his students, but who also actually teaches Nick Cannon about responsibility and life.
Then there is Rhys Ifans as Professor Winton Childs in The Five-Year Engagement. When we meet him in lecture, he has staged an emergency, one that includes a fire alarm and firefighters in full gear running up a stairwell, to make a point about authority or conformity or who knows what. When the students ask if they should leave due to the “perceived” threat of fire, Professor Childs tells them to sit down and not to worry despite all other cues to the contrary. The alarms cut off; Childs reveals the firefighters to be actors; he tells the students the scene has all been part of his lesson, and then he magically launches an explosive fireball into the air as a way of “welcoming” students to social psychology. [I'll pause here so that you can throw-up, laugh, snort, click off the page, or whatever you like.] ARE YOU FREAKING SERIOUS?!?! A FIREBALL?
Criminy, I’m lucky if I can get the projector to work and have enough copies to hand out on any given day. I am too busy reminding students not to text and tweet during class, so I don’t have time for fireballs, which by the way would set off all the newly installed sprinklers in our rooms. Fireballs. Bollocks. Oh, and did I mention Professor Childs is also a racist and a serial predator who hooks-up with new graduate students in his own hand-picked cohort? No? Well, there’s that too, and don’t get me started on the stupid doughnut experiment.
About the rest of The Five-Year Engagement, it’s exactly what you expect and made all-the-more charming by Blunt. The absolute BEST and most random part of the film is the wedding serenade by Chris Pratt who offers his own interpretation of Caetano Veloso’s version of Cucurrucu Paloma. I almost lost consciousness from laughter, but mostly because the scene and his performance are played straight and just so utterly bizarre, not to mention his pronunciation is quite good and his sincerity heartfelt, which for some reason, when combined, made me and my movie partner double-over with delight. Still, one scene is not enough to fork over twelve dollars, so save your money. Or better yet, rent it from the movie vend and buy a box of doughnuts, fireballs not included.