REVIEW – ‘The Five-Year Engagement’
The idea of relationships being built on sacrifice and compromise is nothing new, having been explored at great length in any number of romantic comedies over the years, but screenwriters Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel manage to take a fresh approach to the concept with The Five-Year Engagement, which tells the story of newly-engaged San Francisco couple Tom (Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt), who decide to put their wedding on hold when Violet receives the career opportunity of a lifetime
Relocating to Michigan, the couple finds themselves fending off nagging wedding inquiries from their parents and constantly competing with the unlikely couple of Tom’s best friend Alex (Chris Pratt) and Violet’s sister Suzie (Alison Brie) while trying to settle into their new lifestyle. Violet quickly falls into a routine with her colleagues, an eccentric sociology study group which includes Kevin Hart as a researcher curiously fixated on masturbation. Tom, on the other hand, struggles to adjust to his mediocre job at a sandwich shop with a pickle-obsessed boss (Brian Posehn), opting to grow a hideous amount of facial hair and immerse himself in deer hunting as a coping mechanism.
Things go from bad to worse when a devilishly handsome professor (Rhys Ifans) takes an unhealthy interest in Violet, resulting in plenty of animosity on the homefront. Segel and Blunt expertly navigate these confrontations, throwing in enough humor to keep the audience giggling while providing just the right amount of emotional weight to give each argument a sense of realism.
Segel continues to prove himself a master of awkward humor, and seems to have a knack for conjuring up elaborate scenarios during which he manages to lose some (or all) of his clothing. Blunt is more likeable here than any of her previous roles, and has an unexpectedly charming quality about her, even during her character’s least endearing moments.
On the surface, the narrative often appears to have a very paint-by-numbers feel, and much like Segel and Stoller’s previous collaboration, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the film also runs fifteen minutes too long and could’ve benefited greatly from tighter pacing. But these are minor complaints, easily overcome by the steady barrage of jokes and the chemistry between the leads.