‘The Five-Year Engagement’ kicks off the 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival

Thelma Adams
The Reel Breakdown

"Marriage is a three-ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring, suffering," quipped writer-director Nicholas Stoller before a star-studded crowd last night at Manhattan's Ziegfeld Theatre premiere of "The Five-Year Engagement." Produced by comedy hitmaker Judd Apatow, it's a romantic comedy about the ups and downs of a meet-cute San Francisco couple (Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, both in attendance) confronted with commitment issues after she moves to University of Michigan for grad school. Before the film, Stoller applauded his cast and crew with a special shout-out to star and co-writer Jason Segel, "without whose penis none of us would be here tonight."

The invitation-only gala to launch the 11th Annual Tribeca Film Festival took place in glimmering Midtown Manhattan. Worth mentioning:

[Related:2012 Tribeca Film Festival - 'Five-Year Engagement' Premiere]

Producer Judd Apatow held court at the wedding-themed after-party at the Museum of Modern Art. He was sweating his "100 Years of Universal" chat the next day with festival co-founder Robert DeNiro, legendary man of few words. Apatow figured he'd probably go blue to loosen things up. Good luck with that!

A-lister pixie Michelle Williams watched the movie and confessed that she rarely got a chance to sit down and laugh in a darkened theater. That should change now that she's dating comedy giant Jason Segel. She attended opening night to support her new beau, whom she met through mutual friend Busy Phillips. The couple slipped behind a white curtain in the VIP section for a little private time. Williams's movie will have its North American premiere at Tribeca: "Take This Waltz" mixes laughs and tears with another Apatow regular, unconventional sex god Seth Rogen.

"Veep" star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, Brad Hall, had clearly not yet seen the New York Post's four-star rave for the actress's HBO sitcom, premiering Sunday night. We chatted about Armando Iannucci, the brilliant British comic writer for "Veep" and the man behind "In the Loop" and long-running British political satire "The Thick of It." Dreyfus was crossing her fingers and knocking on wood that her sitcom would find similar success, and she talked about "Picture Paris," the short that she and Hall made together. It's screening at the fest.

[Related: Val Kilmer bikes on the wild side plus other edgy films at the 2012 Tribeca Film Fest]

Also out for the night, jurors Camilla Belle and Cuba Gooding Jr., Leelee Sobieski, writer and director Nora Ephron, festival co-founder Jane Rosenthal, and president of Universal Studios Ron Meyer, among many others.

The early consensus is that the 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival has brought in the active involvement of the studio base, with highly anticipated mainstream movies bookending the festival. Beyond that, with a little research or a good festival guide, there are many fascinating niche films to discover, including Williams's "Take This Waltz" (directed by Canadian Sarah Paulley) and Julie Delpy's "2 Days in New York" with Chris Rock.

See the trailer for 'The Five-Year Engagement':