If you couldn't get enough of actor Jason Segel's full-frontal scene from the hit comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," director Nicholas Stoller said you'll have to wait for another day because it doesn't happen in the writing team's latest romantic comedy, "The Five-Year Engagement."
But they certainly gave it a try.
"We actually shot full-frontal for the film, but then we were looking at the scene and decided like it was too much like going back to the well," Stoller told me with a laugh in an interview Wednesday. "But Jason is very game when it comes to showing various parts of his body."
Considering that everything Stoller and Segel have collaborated has turned to gold, you'll have to trust them on this. After all, this is the same team that wrote the scripts to "Get Him to the Greek" (which Stoller also directed) and "The Muppets" -- and the lack of exposure, so to speak, didn't hurt those films a bit.
"The Five-Year Engagement" stars Segel and Emily Blunt as Tom and Violet, a perfect couple who, a year after they meet, get engaged. But as a series of career goals and personal ups and downs get in their way, Tom and Violet can't seem to find the right time to proceed with their wedding plans, leading to an unusually long and frustrating engagement.
The film, which is produced by Judd Apatow and co-stars Chris Pratt, Alison Brie and Rhys Ifans, opens in theaters nationwide on Friday.
"The Five-Year Engagement" is unique in that its story escapes the trappings of the romantic comedy genre, yet it manages to capture the same tone of some definitive romantic comedy classics.
"Romantic comedies are my favorite films. Before we sat down to write the film, we watched 'Four Weddings and a Funeral,' 'When Harry Met Sally" and 'Annie Hall' -- all those great romantic comedies -- and then ripped them off," Stoller said, laughing.
In all seriousness, Stoller said there's a great benefit to watching the classics because you can learn what makes them tick.
"To be honest, I watched those movies to diagram them and see how they move," Stoller said. "When we started structuring our film, we look at those totally character-driven romantic comedies. A movie like 'When Harry Met Sally' is very carefully constructed."
When directing character-driven comedies, Stoller noted that the most important thing to remember is that the comedy must come from honest situations if the scene or the dialogue is going to be naturally funny. Forcing comedy, he said, is generally not a good idea.
"It's a lesson that I've learned over the three movies I've done," Stoller explained. "I remember on 'Sarah Marshall,' I was pushing Jason to be broader than he should have been and was trying to hit the joke card. But after Judd Apatow watched dailies, he called me and said, 'You don't have to try so hard. You should direct Jason to just react naturally to the nightmare of his ex-girlfriend showing up at the same hotel he's staying at.'"
Stoller said once he went with the more natural approach, it became "the funniest thing ever."
"The more truthful, the funnier it is, and the more subtle, the better," Stoller said." You just need to show people the way they would really react."
Another part of that natural reaction, Stoller added, is that dialogue should never come out an actor as if it sounds rehearsed. Thankfully, he said, Segel uses a great method for making his lines feel real.
"The more sloppy he makes the dialogue sound, the more realistic it is," Stoller said. "People don't ever have perfect sound bites of things that they say in real life, whether they're in a fight or trying to propose. You're always pretty much working your way through it, so that makes it funnier, I think."
While "The Five-Year Engagement" is at heart a romantic comedy, Stoller is proud of the fact that he and Segel weren't afraid to confront dramatic moments in the script, including the spats real-life engaged couples have as their relationships deepen.
Ultimately, Stoller knows, that if "The Five-Year Engagement" turns from comedy to dramedy at some points, the film will only benefit from it because the situations become all the more relatable to its audiences.
At the same time, he said, its important pull a scene back before it becomes complete drudgery.
"We really tread the line on this one -- it's probably the most dramatic of the three movies I've directed," Stoller observed. "But I think it's very interesting when we have a scene that goes there, like the bedroom argument scene. There has been an explosion of laughter from audiences when he wants to be alone and she starts to leave and he says, 'I just want to be alone with you here now.' It's a funny line and its great relief for that moment."
"A moment like that says, 'OK, we can laugh at this,'" Stoller added. "The most dramatic things in my life have also been weird and funny, and if we can hit both, it becomes more emotionally compelling."
The pending release of "The Five-Year Engagement" is only one of the reasons it's been a big week for Stoller. On Tuesday, Walt Disney Studios made official that there are going to make a sequel to "The Muppets," with Stoller on script duties again and James Bobin back in the director's chair.
Stoller said he's thrilled that the sequel has become a high-priority for the studio.
"It's a huge vote of confidence from the property," Stoller enthused. "I just loved working on 'The Muppets' so much. It's just so much fun to write for those characters, and an honor."
Segel, who starred as the human lead in "The Muppets," will not be back for the sequel, and as of now, Stoller said he doesn't expect the actor to appear in the "Muppets 2" in a cameo role, either.