Genre: Comedy, Romance
Directed by: Nicholas Stiller
Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt
Produced by comedy king Judd Apatow, The Five-Year Engagement skims the surface of amusement but never takes the plunge into full blown funny. As Craig David wisely said, it’s ‘slicker than your average’, but only just.
Tom and Violet are in love. It’s not of The Notebook variety that ‘awakens the soul’ but the type of love that actually exists for normal people. After one idyllic year the two get engaged, only to find themselves perpetually postponing the wedding due to life’s inevitable obstacles. Whilst initially they seem to be on the same marital-bliss track, Tom and Violet are individually driven by a passion for their respective professions, which sends them in opposite directions. It’s Tom’s dream vs. Violet’s as they attempt to navigate their way to the altar. The concept is great, the execution not so much.
The first fifteen minutes were promising, with witty dialogue and a dynamic chemistry between Jason Segal and Emily Blunt. The duo bounce off each other very well and were believable as an ordinary couple struggling to balance their very different working lives. Sadly the film started to peter out very quickly, reaching a full on snooze-fest half way through. Much like the length of Tom and Violet’s engagement, the film was longer than it should have been and the slow pace didn’t lend itself to the narrative.
Expect brief chuckles rather than big belly laughs with this darker than normal romantic comedy. Whilst it’s more original than the majority, The Five-Year Engagement is no Bridesmaids. It fails to hit the laugh out loud moments that Apatow’s previous outing thrived on, indeed the funniest segments are all revealed in the trailer which is always a letdown. Considering Segal himself wrote the screenplay, I’m surprised that it’s not funnier. What’s not surprising however is the typical ‘Segal nudity’ that seems to have become a stable scene in many of his films. The image of his naked behind is burned into my retinas. Segal, unfortunately, isn’t at his funniest here and is totally overshadowed by Blunt, whose intonation and timing lends itself to this style of comedy. It’s hard not to warm to Blunt’s effortless charm and classy manner, making her the film’s saving grace.
Whilst The Five-Year Engagement isn’t as funny as the trailer leads you to believe, it’s droll enough to satisfy softer critics. It doesn’t feel quite as mindless as you might expect and there’s a glimmer of something that resembles depth in the story – a refreshing change for the genre. It settles somewhere in the middle of romance and drama, with a hint of comedy that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. The end picks up slightly and provides a touching conclusion to a film that’s probably more reflective of everyday life than we’d like to believe. Not Oscar worthy on any level, but nobody said it would be.