The Five-Year Engagement – Review

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Stars: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt and Alison Brie
Released: June 22, 2012

Click Here for The Five-Year Engagement official trailer

When the writer and director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall return to team up for another romantic comedy, that’s a cause for excitement. That film achieved a lot by being funny in a very modern way while telling a very unorthodox love story. The Five-Year Engagement is a little bit deeper and more traditional than that, but it still has plenty of laughs to keep it going.

The Plot:
Tom (Segel) proposes to Violet (Blunt) one year after they first met. The two are blissfully in love, but problems arrive when a career opportunity threatens to get in the way. Moving out of Chicago to accept a temporary post in the University of Michigan, Violet becomes slowly aware that Tom, who gave up his job as head chef for her, is not happy in this new lifestyle. Over time, they begin to question if they are right for each other.

The Five-Year Engagement raises some interesting questions for those that are in relationships. It takes the complicated notion of love, asks some questions about it that most couples can easily relate to, and then wraps up nicely while ensuring the audience still considers these questions afterwards. Most pointedly, it asks how important it is to be ‘right’ for one another, is there such thing as a ‘perfect’ relationship and exactly what would you be willing to give up to be with the one you love. Oh, and you get to see Jason Segel’s ass.

And it’s that in-your-face humour that we’ve come to expect when we go to see a Judd Apatow film. People get shot with crossbows, there are a few masturbation jokes and of course, there is the odd bit of vague pop culture references (i.e. ‘watching you cut onions is depressing….like watching Michael Jordan take a shit’). It all blends together for a very funny film, which is aided hugely by its supporting cast. Violet’s psychology team are a bunch of misfits, each with their own little quirks. Particularly good is Mindy Kaling, of The US Office fame, who channels her character Kelly into this role for brilliant effect.

As well as this, there is also Violet’s sister, Suzie (Brie), and Tom’s friend Alex (Pratt), both of whom hook up at the couples engagement party. Throughout the film, their relationship parallels Tom and Violet’s, showing a distorted mirror image of what could be. The fact that they are such a mismatched pair, but are doing what Tom and Violet want to do is both highly entertaining and thought-provoking. They show that, despite how different and mismatched they both are, they can manage to make their relationship work, rocky though it is. They also have very loud whisper fights in front of people, which proves quite entertaining.

Tom and Violet have a lot of great moments together as well. Jason Segel does his usual thing, playing the warm-hearted but goofy  bumbler. And whereas Blunt plays Violet fairly straight, which works well against Segel, she also has her moments where she shows she can flex a bit of comedy muscle. In terms of comedy, they are best when interacting with others, which is good because, when together, it allows the audience to see the very apparent chemistry the two share. They make a terrific on-screen couple because, more than anything else, they are believable.

It is plain to see that, while they are two quite different people (Tom is very honest and friendly with people, whereas Violet is quite conservative and thoughtful), they care for each other very much. They have small fights and there are things that, it is clear they will never agree on, but they have that inexplicable spark that makes it difficult to imagine them apart. A great deal of credit goes to Segel, Blunt and of course, Stoller, the director, for depicting this so well.

The film does tend to drag a bit in the middle however. It starts off quite well, and seems to pick up speed, but as things get serious, you tend to feel the minutes ticking by. There are one or two unnecessary scenes, usually depicting how bored Tom is in Michigan, that could probably have been left on the cutting room floor. Luckily, it picks up again very well in the final act, finishing on an upbeat note that makes the running time forgivable.

Overall:
Plenty of laughs, as you would expect from an Apatow film, The Five-Year Engagement asks some interesting questions about relationships that the audience can read into, or dismiss, as much as they’d like. By focusing on such an endearing couple however, it is hard not to leave without an optimistic view on the entire issue of love and relationships. A bit long, and dragging slightly in the middle, it is still a very funny film with a sweet story at the heart of it.

Rating: 7/10

I’m texting myself….I am very drunk, and I may not remember this tomorrow.” – Vaneetha

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • Pretty much any time I wrote Tom and Violet in this review, I would accidentally type Tom and Mary (of Fr. Ted fame) by accident. That includes just now.
  • While in the film, the little girl who shoots Emily Blunt in the leg is heard to say “I’m Pocahontas”, in some of the earlier trailers she is heard to say “I’m Katniss”, playing off the success of The Hunger Games.
  • At one point, Alex does his own rendition of ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’, fitting Tom’s ex’s into the lyrics. I am currently attempting to do the same with video game characters.
  • Rhys Ifans plays a scientist who transforms into a giant Lizard in The Amazing Spiderman. Here, he plays a psychologist (i.e. another type of scientist). This will make you wary of his character for the entire film.

This film is kind of like:

  • Any couple and their in-jokes/stories

or

  • A romantic comedy (It’s 2 am, I’m tired all right, just go and watch it, you’ll see what I mean)
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