The Five Year Engagement – Film Review

He sees her from across the room and his heartbeat quickens. He is a superhero bunny and she is Princess Diana. From their first glance they know they are destined to be together. They move toward each other and made awkward small talk; the kind of small talk that fills lovers of sappy romantic comedies with tingling joy. But then, you’re feeling all gooey inside as well? What is this sorcery, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt? How dare you use such convincing chemistry to sucker us into your make-believe love story! For shame! For entertaining and heart-warming shame!

Tom (Segel), a sous chef on the verge of a managerial promotion, and Violet (Blunt), a psychology graduate attempting to embark on her post-doctorate studies, are in a still-blossoming relationship that couldn’t be better after a clumsy but romantic marriage proposal. When Violet is offered a doctorate position in Michigan the pair uproot and postpone the wedding until they are happily settled once more. However, the move stunts Tom’s career and turns him into a begrudging househusband while Violet’s life becomes better every day. The Five Year Engagement then begins to explore identifiable relationship distresses, looking at outsiders’ opinions as well as the pair’s own as we watch Tom and Violet’s relationship fall slowly to pieces.

In a recent interview Jason Segel revealed that every time an actor is chosen for a part in a film he penned he goes back and rewrites the film completely (or any scene the character impacts, at least) to allow any actor to excel in their role. This method is certainly evident in The Five Year Engagement as just about every character, big or small, is wholly fleshed out and has a justified presence in the film. From the neighbourhood friend or begrudging mother to the old boss who appears in two scenes, everyone has a part in the film’s humour and overall impact. Particularly shining is Alison Brie as Violet’s overly dramatic sister, Suzie who steals every scene she appears in (in addition to having a more believable English accent than Emily Blunt herself) and definitely deserves a spin-off/sequel akin to Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Get Him To The Greek or the upcoming This Is Forty (following side characters of The 40 Year Old Virgin).

Of course, fleshing out every character not only takes attention away from the film’s key figures (you will more than once wish that we were watching the story of some of the bench characters) but also lengthens the film by a pointlessly excessive amount. Whilst The Five Year Engagement stands at 125 minutes long, its primary plot should only last 80 minutes at best. We’re just lucky that Segel and the film’s director, Nicholas Stoller (dir. Forgetting Sarah Marshall) are talented enough to keep us somewhat absorbed through the numerous sketch show-like scenes that fill in the time between the actual plot.

The Five Year Engagement is one of those rare mainstream romantic comedies that has as much feeling as it does Hollywood fluff and is better for it. Although stretching it for time in terms of story, the varied likes of character’s pig fetishes, stale doughnut metaphors, and househusband knitting skills will keep you highly entertained. A definite Orange Wednesday occasion with your partner.*

*If you don’t have a partner it’s still hilarious to watch a relationship fall apart, no?
If anything, it is even more satisfying – Tim (single, not remotely bitter)

Out Now – 22nd June 2012

The Five-Year Engagement
Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie and Rhys Ifans are all worth a trip to the cinema on their own so having all five in one film very nearly makes this a must-see. I only say very-nearly because I am useless at actually going and seeing films I want to see. For plot, see title.

Chernobyl Diaries
Horror film set in the ruins of the Chernobyl disaster as an extreme tour guide stumbles across hordes of mutants. Lovely. I wonder how this is going to go down in the Ukraine…

Lay the Favorite
Wacky summer comedy with slightly dodgy sounding name!

Think Like a Man (limited release)
Sexual politics comedy! Women, eh? Men, eh? Couples, eh?

Where Do We Go Now? (limited release)
Broad religious comedy in which a group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. Hang on, this one might be a drama.

Victim (limited release)
A young man tries to break out of a cycle of violence. My advice? Stop killing people you loon.

Planet of Snail (limited release)
Full synopsis because it confused my brain: “Young-Chan comes from planet of snail where deaf blind people live slow and quiet lives. When Young-Chan came to Earth, nobody understood his language and he was desperate. Then an angel walked into his life. Soon-Ho knows how it is to be lonely and soon becomes an inseparable part of his life. Young-Chan also discovers an amazing world under his fingers as he learned to read books with braille. Hopes began to grow and he dreams of writing a book. However, Soon-Ho cannot always be there for him because of her own problem of spine disability. The couple now should learn to survive alone. While Soon-Ho uneasily spends her first day waiting for his return, Young-Chan goes out for the biggest adventure of his life.”

The Last Projectionist (limited release)
Documentary charting the history of independent cinemas and the changing world of projection. All centred around the UK’s oldest working cinema, in Birmingham no less.

Silent Souls (limited release)
A man and his “companion” (suspicious) take the body of his wife to cremate it. Can’t help thinking it would have saved a lot of effort to cremate her and then transport her. What inefficiency.

The Rise & Fall of a White Collar Hooligan (limited)
It’s gritty, it’s British and it involves football. I’m out.

Cloclo (limited release)
Biopic of Claude François who surprisingly enough is French.