‘The Five-Year Engagement’ Movie Review – A Funny, But Messy, Romance
Once in awhile, the stars align – from production to casting to marketing – to make a comedy that appears to have everything. You don’t have to research modern comedy to know there is a man behind most of these films – Judd Apatow. However, The Five-Year Engagement is proof that a lovable cast and funny premise doesn’t automatically make a film anything special. There are definitely laugh-out-loud moments, but the lack of focus makes this a tougher movie to classify as an instant classic.
When Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) decide to get married, they don’t realize the roller coaster they are strapping in to. They don’t anticipate they’ll be enduring some of the toughest setbacks, everything from competing weddings to career moves. In a tale of sacrifice and love, these two really test the limits of their enduring love for one another.
As for supporting characters, Tom and Violet’s best friends Alex (Chris Pratt) and Suzie (Alison Brie) try to provide support for their extended engagement, even though they have personality quirks themselves. Add into the mix a few psych students (Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, and Randall Park) and an overly-interested boss (Rhys Ifans) and the challenge increases.
From the team that brought you the hilarious Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Stroller, Apatow, and Rodney Rothman), The Five-Year Engagement had the potential to be the next big comedy. It certainly had the cast and crew that could make it this year’s Bridesmaids (another Apatow movie). Yes, going in with these types of expectations is very unfair. However, The Five-Year Engagement is far too unfocused and relies heavily on one-off jokes. Ultimately, it disrupts the flow in a distracting manner.
Plenty of times throughout, the movie creates situations that are funny, but don’t have anything to do with the plot. There aren’t many running gags that amount to anything. Also, as the title suggests, the film’s narrative takes place over a huge span, creating a tall order in terms of plot movement. In just over two hours, they must fit in over five years of story. I can’t help but wonder how much better this story would’ve been as a TV series rather than a feature (ala How I Met Your Mother).
These things, though, aren’t as evident until we realize it later. In the moment, there are some very funny scenes. Segel and Blunt have some great comedic chemistry, making the more subtle humor bits effective. My favorite parts, though, involved the awkward/quirky humor Pratt (Everwood, Parks and Recreation) brought to the film. It’s tough to warrant his character (since he’s just an obvious screw-up), but that doesn’t mean he fails at adding some needed comedy.
I’ll rightfully admit that I couldn’t be more excited for this movie. Not only did it involve two of my most adored actors (Segel and Blunt), but it had two of my favorite TV actors (Pratt and Brie). Then, when I found out it was the same team that did one of my favorite comedies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), I was brimming with anticipation. The end result wasn’t exactly what I expected – in fact, it was far less effective. I can’t help but admit that with four different actors, I would’ve been even harsher on the film.
Still, I can see there are some redeeming qualities that partially save the film. The supporting characters are not developed (there simply wasn’t time), but the film is just raunchy and witty enough to enjoy. Similarly, there are some more serious moments that will resonate, even if the plot seemed like a mess at times. Overall, it won’t reach the levels of other Apatow comedies, but it will still put some smiles on some faces.