Film Review – The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement (MA)

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Starring: Jason Segal, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie

Two stars

Review by: Julian Wright

After some great collaborative efforts such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets Movie, it is disheartening that all Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller have to say in their latest film is “relationships are hard.” Hey guys, tell us something we don’t know.

Even more dismaying is that this long-winded look-see into a tumultuous five-year engagement is that it came under the watchful eyes of Judd Apatow, who lately, has had phenomenal success in relationship driven comedies with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids and even Pineapple Express. How did such a funny group of guys, who have given us insights into some quirky relationships in the past, come up with something so bland?

Here’s how: by not scratching the surface and yet still dragging a 90 minute film to an excruciating two hours with extended, unfunny scenes that usually make their debut in the deleted scenes section of the DVD for the hard-core fans.

The set up is interesting enough, and film begins well, as Tom (Jason Segal) proposes Violet (Emily Blunt) on their anniversary. The cute couple pick a date but when Violet’s dream job comes up, they have to move to Michigan and postpone the wedding. The move will be an adjustment in itself for the San Franciscans. But it also means that Tom has to leave his job as a chef at a ritzy restaurant when he is on the verge of a promotion.

No biggie at first because Tom is such a sweet and supportive guy. But when he has to take a job as a sandwich maker while Violet’s career takes off and they have to stay longer than first thought, problems start to arise. Covering some fascinating ground in dealing with how much one should sacrifice for their partner’s happiness, coupled with the added pressure of organising and postponing a wedding, The Five Year Engagement fails in its resistance to go deeper or anywhere unexpected.

The set-up is there but not much follow through. The point it makes is watered down by sheer length and superfluous scenes. Characters goes on long rants that are neither amusing or clever and the actors seem awkward delivering them. In fact, the whole film’s sense of comic timing is way off. Instead of wit, there is just a barrage of inappropriateness desperately thrown in for any laughs the film makers can get.

Segal and Blunt try their hardest but it is the off-beat relationship that blossoms between Violet’s sister Suzie (Alison Brie) and her one night stand Alex (Chris Pratt) that would have made for much more fascinating viewing. Now that’s and odd couple I would like to see go through a five-year engagement.

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