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True love; Rom-com gets extra credit for keeping it real

Adults like to laugh, too.

The question is, will they pay to do it?

That's the gamble for "The Five-Year Engagement," a comedy with a lot of F-bombs and sight gags whose largest pleasure comes from a grown-up authenticity in the relationship of the long-waiting couple of the title. (And if you have a thing for Jason Segel's bare bottom -- boy, are you in luck, but no frontal this time.)

Segel and Nicholas Stoller, creators of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "The Muppet Movie," are acting their age -- and we mean that in a good way -- with this film, which also carries the producing blessing of comedy king Judd Apatow ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Bridesmaids").

Emily Blunt may be the cutest castrating female in movie history. As Violet, all she wants is to be married to Tom (Segel) and have a career in academia. Tom wants her to succeed, too. And that means decamping from San Francisco, where he is set to be the top chef in a high-end restaurant, to make sandwiches in the wintry rural outpost of Ann Arbor, Mich., so Violet can be a psych researcher at the University of Michigan. (She soooo wanted to get a gig at Berkeley). Soon, the compromises begin. (Let us pause to be glad she didn't get a job at UB; Michigan does not come across well here.)

This is a story about people's plans colliding with life's realities. Oddly, "You Can't Always Get What You Want" is not on the hit-heavy soundtrack, although Vi and Tom struggle reconciling what they want (careers) with what they need (each other).

But in a very funny way.

We are so used to rom-coms in which the main conflict is some bizarre misunderstanding or slapstick event that seeing a film in which the two halves of a very sweet couple find themselves just plain stuck is almost jarring. Unlike Tom, we might not slum around the house in gigantic pink bunny costumes or keep loaded crossbows in the kitchen (for one of two hugely cringe-inducing scenes), but when Vi and Tom talk -- bickering in their tiny bed -- they sound downright real.

"You just don't understand," she says, about her career dreams. But he does understand, and he tells her so -- and that it is irritating when she says he doesn't. And he tells her something she doesn't understand -- "I'm not happy. I'm just not the man I want to be right now."

The movie sometimes feels its full five years (at more than two hours, it's a lift for a comedy), especially when in full crisis mode. Segel's deer hunter phase, complete with mountain man whiskers and antler decor, is too weird for words.

But the whole piece is elevated by its strong extended family -- Alison Brie ("Community") solid as Vi's sister, Mimi Kennedy and David Paymer as Tom's parents, and especially Jacki Weaver, who was so frighteningly tough in the crime movie "Animal Kingdom," as Violet's divorced and flaky-as-a-biscuit English mum. Chris Pratt is the dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks best friend. There's even a short, funny turn for Dakota Johnson, daughter of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, in a dead-on role as "the younger woman."

Not a lot of stars for originality here; instead, give credit to Blunt and Segel for keeping it real.




2 1/2 stars (out of 4)    

STARRING: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Jacki Weaver, Chris Pratt and Rhys Ifans    

DIRECTOR: Nicholas Stoller    

RUNNING TIME: 124 minutes    

RATING: R for sexual content and language throughout.    

THE LOWDOWN: An engaged couple keeps finding and creating obstacles to put between themselves and the altar.