New at area dollar theaters this week are three things that a lot of people don’t understand: The Three Stooges, Nicholas Sparks and marriage. ---
The best of the lot is The Five-Year Engagement, with Jason Segel co-writing (with his Muppets collaborator Nicholas Stoller) and starring (with Emily Blunt) in the story of a couple whose complicated lives keep them perpetually from finally tying the knot. Like many Judd Apatow productions, it feels in need of a little judicious editing, but there’s also a lot of funny stuff, and a fairly wise look at how easy it is to miss out on great because you’re waiting for perfect.
The Sparks adaptation The Lucky One casts Zac Efron as an Iraq War veteran who seeks out the woman (Taylor Schilling) whose photo he believes saved his life. Not much can save this story, though, which marches according to the Sparks game plan only without any of the actual romantic chemistry that could have helped transcend the schmaltz.
As for the Farrelly brothers’ The Three Stooges … well, it all depends on how funny you thought the Stooges were in the first place, because this is truly faithful to the episodic slapstick spirit of the vintage shorts—which is either good news, or an excruciating reminder to stay away.