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Movie Review: The Five Year Engagement

Mike Finkelstein is madly in love with his fiance. But then, she got offered a job across the country, and now the two are trying to figure out how to make things work. For some advice, Mike went to the movies. That probably wasn’t the smartest idea. Here is his review of The Five Year Engagement



Mike Finkelstein is madly in love with his fiancée.  But suddenly, she got offered a job across the country, and now the two are trying to figure out how to make things work.  For some advice, Mike went to the movies.  That probably wasn’t the smartest idea…Here is his review of “The Five Year Engagement”.

PLOT: Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are a newly engaged couple living in San Francisco.  When Violet gets accepted to a post-doctorate in psychology program at the University of Michigan, Tom decides to leave everything, including a new head chef job, behind to move across country with her for two years.  As time keeps ticking away and more obstacles keep getting piled on, will their ever extended engagement last to see a wedding day?

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: Judd Apatow and Co have a gift for making comedies out of obscure concepts.  It’s a trademark that, when mixed with some ridiculous improv, has spawned some of the best comedies of the past decade.  But there comes a time when all the craziness and eccentric behavior can become overwhelming and even downright distracting. Case in point: THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT – a movie with a funny, heartwarming romance at its core that never gets a chance to really take off, all due to the overpowering eccentricities piled on.

THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT follows Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt), a San Francisco couple who just got engaged (congrats!).  But when Violet gets accepted to a post-doctorate program at the University of Michigan, the two decide to postpone the wedding and move out there so Violet can focus on her career.  While Violet’s career soon takes off, Tom falls victim to a lax lifestyle, boredom, and depression.  Hilarity ensues.

Before anything, I will say there are a few great things about THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT.  The story is promising, and whenever Segel and Blunt share the screen together, I couldn’t help but smile.  (Kudos to Blunt for fitting so perfectly into the Apatow universe, and to Segel for creating one of the cutest nervous-boyfriend-about-to-propose ever.)  The two have a natural chemistry, and it’s absolutely adorable to watch them play and banter back and forth about things like getting “super laid” and being an old man.  Besides the two gorgeous leads, Rhys Ifans shows up as Violet’s suave, aggressive boss, and runs away with every scene he is in (literally at one point), and be prepared for a battle between Cookie Monster and Elmo that will be quoted for a long, long time.

But then, it all goes off track from there.  The second Tom and Violet get to Michigan, they are surrounded by peculiar characters, including a husband obsessed with knitting, a pickle connoisseur, students obsessed with masturbating and murder experiments, and one girl who looks and acts a lot like Kelly Kapoor. (Oh wait, it was her…)  With such a charming couple at the base and some real organic laughs throughout, I was getting more annoyed than amused every time I had to listen to the obvious improvisations among these “friends” that just went on too damn long.  The same goes for the group back home in San Francisco, including Violet’s weepy sister (Alison Brie) and Tom’s best friend, Alex (Chris Pratt), who are just too ridiculous for their own good.

Now, I understand all these supporting characters are supposed to be funny and memorable with how over the top they are, but it just doesn’t work this time.  Yes, it is the norm nowadays to let actors go off and just let the camera roll, but it was all so ridiculous that none of it was ringing true!  Maybe it was because I’m growing tired of the practice overall, but either way, I just wanted everyone to shut up so I could get back to the main focus at hand: Tom and Violet (a backhanded compliment about a movie if there ever was one).

While the improv did create most of the film’s problems, the writing caused another.  Within two years of moving to Michigan, Tom went from an up-and-coming chef to a venison-obsessed, handle-bar mustache wearing shell of himself.  In short, he turned into a character instead of a real person.  My favorite moment of Tom’s is when he slips and goes flying to the pavement while trying to clean ice off his windshield.  Something as simple as that is all you need.  When you go from there to the extremes of drinking honey and having three deer hanging in your garage (not to mention doing some of the dumbest things any human being could do, drunk or not), I feel every ounce of my being calling bull.

At its core, THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT has a promising storyline with two charming leads that we want to stay together.  Sadly, though, that beautiful core is let down, buried under mounds of excessive improvisation and exaggeration.  I know in my gut that this movie could have been one to remember.  (Hell, maybe it could have happened with only a few extra snips in the editing room!)  But as of now, Tom and Violet are the only real stand out factors that will stick in audiences’ heads.

And they deserve better…


Mike’s LIKES:

1) JASON SEGEL AND EMILY BLUNT: These two make the cutest couple on screen I’ve seen in a while.  Perfectly natural and playful together, all we want is things to work out.

2) RHYS IFANS: A friend and I were talking about the range of characters Ifans has played in his career, from the likes of Spike in NOTTING HILL to the mature, seductive professor here.  He is one supporting actor that I feel can do no wrong, something he proves by being one of the best parts of this film.

3) PROPOSALS: Absolutely adorable on all sides.  Trust me, you’ll want your proposals to be like this!

4) COOKIE MONSTER VS ELMO: I don’t think I’ve ever heard these two say such horrible things.  Just goes to show you that every conversation is better when it comes out of Elmo and Cookie’s mouths.


1) ECCENTRIC SUPPORTING CAST: With strange quirks and unforgiving, pushy improv (see #2), not one of the supporting characters around Tom and Violet seemed anywhere near real.

2) IMPROV: It is the norm in comedy these days (especially in Judd Apatow movies) to let the camera roll and let the actors improv.  Here, however, it just doesn’t help.  It doesn’t move the story along, it gets boring, and I was usually just waiting to get back to Tom and Violet.

3) TOM’S EXTREMES: To go from a nice, head-chef-in-waiting to a fat, hairy lumberjack and back again just didn’t sit right with me.  Mix that with a naked snow run, some stale donuts and a crossbow, and all I can think is “really?”

4) THE FIVE YEAR STIGMA: Something tells me if the specific stipulation of five years was scratched and the same story was told under different conditions (maybe a few months time with anger growing between the two, and minus so much venison…), we would have been able to get to the heart of the story better.


1) In order to work on her character’s British accent, Alison Brie listened to recordings of readings provided by co-star Emily Blunt.

2) Emily Blunt also appeared in THE MUPPETS, which Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller both wrote.

Editor's Pick

VIDEO:Rolled Ice Cream, Cheetos Bagels And Grasshoppers Are Just Some Of The Unusual Things Brian Balthazar Has Eaten On ‘The Wendy Williams Show’



You’ve seen pop culture expert, Brian Balthazar, appear on The Wendy Williams Show quite a bit over the last few years. He even co-hosted the show on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until his last visit where he and Jason Biggs chowed down on a KFC Cheetos Chicken Sandwich that it hit me: Being on the daytime talk show makes Brian Balthazar hungry!

The proof is in the pudding…pun definitely intended. Carla Hall made sure to bring some snacks for Brian when they cohosted together.

Sure, Wendy is known for telling us to “grab a snack and come on back”…

But you’d have to be absolutely famished to want to eat fish sliders at 10am.

He’s gotten so hungry he resorted to eating GRASSHOPPER TACOS on the show!

Could it be that Brian isn’t actually hungry though? Could he just be a brave soul willing to be the taste tester so we don’t have to? Could my theory be flawed?!

I suddenly feel like maybe we owe Brian a big thanks…

Either way, it’s fun to watch! Click below to take a look at a compilation of all the fun stuff Brian Balthazar has eaten on The Wendy Williams Show!

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Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


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A post shared by Brian Balthazar (@brianbalthazar)



Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst



Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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