A reunion of writer/director Nicholas Stoller with writer/star, Jason Segel, The Five Year Engagement is an entertaining romcom that isn’t afraid to take its time, and one that favours quality over quantity with regards to laughs.
Tom (Segel) proposes to Violet (Emily Blunt) exactly one year after the first met. Whilst the proposal itself doesn’t go as planned, he’s greeted with an enthusiastic “yes”, which is promising. Getting from engagement to the promised marriage is more problematic, however, as they find the outside world and their own ambitions conflicting with the desired happily ever after.
The film is a slipshod affair. There are a lot of lulls in proceedings, punctuated by moments of uproarious comedy gold. As with many of the Judd Apatow-produced romcoms, The Five Year Engagement is never in a hurry, and this technique produces similar results to the likes of The 40 Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Funny People. I enjoyed every minute of The Five Year Engagement, but as I was watching I could pick out the moments or scenes that needed to be trimmed or excised.
At first, there’s a distinct lack of chemistry between Segel and Blunt, which is surprising considering they’re both good performers in their own right. I can’t quite explain it, but it’s as if the stars only met moments before they started shooting. After a while I did warm to them as a couple, but of course this was when things were beginning to fall apart between Tom and Violet anyway. The supporting cast are decent. Alison Brie (from ‘Community’) is the stand out, and her particularly brilliant brand of comic delivery is the high point of the film. Chris Pratt is less successful as Tom’s best friend, Alex, whilst I didn’t even recognise Jackie Weaver, so understated was her role. Finally, it was good to see Rhys Ifans playing a character that wasn’t crazy, a stalker, or a combination of the two.
The central premise is refreshingly real world and a change from the high concept romcoms that we’ve seen of late, and whilst their performances don’t always mesh perfectly, Segel and Blunt are great in their individual roles. An entirely serviceable film, The Five Year Engagement is charming and witty, and at least manages to avoid being offensive (unlike anything that Katherine Heigl has done, for instance). It could have been shorter, but I enjoyed it for all its flaws.Rating: