Jul 4 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
The Five-Year Engagement
THE Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy about the trials and tribulations of the relationship between Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt).
One year after meeting, Tom proposes to Violet but a series of unfortunate events keep denying them their trip down the aisle, making them start to wonder if destiny is going to destroy their plans for a life together.
The Five-Year Engagement thankfully follows the non-mushy, more adult nature of recent rom-coms like Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Friends with Benefits to create a funny, charming experience.
But be warned; don’t go expecting Bridesmaids or Hangover-type constant hilarity and farce.
There are laughs. Of course there are, given the impressive comedic history of Segel and frequent collaborator, director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets).
But there’s grouchiness and cross words aplenty too as Segel and Stoller’s story tackles career paths getting in the way of relationships and plays out like a marriage before marriage.
Even when things are a bit more serious, though, Stoller can ably rely on his two wonderful leads and the dazzling chemistry they share.
Segel is always a safe bet to tickle your funny bone and right from a hilarious opening when his nerves lead to a failed surprise marriage proposal (“receipts”), we are left to root for him in his quest to start a life with Violet.
Blunt’s early career focussed on more serious, dramatic fare but in recent years she has very effectively turned her hand to comedy (Wild Target) and shared off the charts chemistry with Matt Damon in romance of sorts The Adjustment Bureau.
So, she’s well primed to tackle the rom-com genre, although she isn’t new to it (The Jane Austen Book Club), and combines the required amount of ‘do anything for a laugh’ flair (an ace Cookie Monster impression) and heart.
Segel and Blunt also throw themselves (sometimes literally) into impressive moments of physical comedy, the latter with some rude hand gestures and the former dealing with de-icing and climbing over cars and colliding with a fire hydrant.
The supporting cast are good value too.
Rhys Ifans’ (Winton) hip, charismatic tutor rival’s Tom for Violet’s affection, Chris Pratt (Alex) fills the ‘funny best friend’ role well and appears to have had some fun ad-libbing lines, 30 Rock’s Dr Spaceman Chris Parnell is a blast as a knitting hunter, and maybe most bizarrely of all, Animal Kingdom’s chilling mum, actress Jacki Weaver, turns up as Violet’s prim and proper mother Sylvia.
Not everything ticks the right boxes, though. A joke about the pronunciation of Winton’s Welsh dog falls flat and a running gag where Tom and Violet’s grandparents die off gets old fast (if you pardon the pun).
Tom’s Serpico-style beard phase (see Knocked-Up for that reference) is very forced and the film’s biggest flaw is that it’s just too long.
The running time is two hours and by the time the mad but sweet ending comes along, you’ll be doing some fidgeting about in your seat.
So, The Five-Year Engagement overstays its welcome but steers clear of sickly sweet while retaining humour, real-life issues and heart, thanks to two sublime leads and able back-up behind and in front of the camera.
Rating – 7 out of 10.