The Five-Year Engagement is the latest effort from Nicholas Stoller as he moves away from the characters he brought us in his previous films, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. While Greek was a paint by numbers comedy, Forgetting Sarah Marshall was one of the better romantic comedies of the last few years. Coming from the stable of Judd Apatow, Stoller brings us another mature romantic comedy that asks big questions, has a truthful relationship at its centre but doesn’t spare us the laughs.
At the centre of the eponymous relationship are Emily Blunt and Jason Segel as Violet and Tom a young successful couple who become engaged prior to Violet being invited to Michigan for her dream job at the University. The move stalls their plans for their wedding and throws a number of other compilations into the mix.
Violet meets her supervising professor, an excellently subtle Rhys Ifans, a character who confuses the relationship further and Tom ends up working in a low-end sandwich shop a huge leap from his previous role as sous-chef at a top restaurant. The relationship then enters a cyclical process of approaching the wedding and then other issues getting in the way, Violet’s job is extended time and time again and as Tom struggles to cope the challenges to their relationship come thick and fast.
There are two major strengths to this film, first is the screenplay, written by Stoller and Segel the script focuses first on being truthful to relationships and secondly on comedy. This seems to be a feature of Segel’s influence on a screenplay and allows the film to make its emotional moments stick, the comedy comes naturally behind this.
The second strength is the performances of Segel and Blunt. Segel is starting to corner the market as the lovable partner in romantic comedies, Segel is likeable, self-depricating and passionate in equal measure and his work on How I Met Your Mother and The Muppets have developed this ability. Here he is able to fully exploit it and even when his character goes through a breakdown in the second act he delivers his performance subtly and with genuine heart. Blunt meanwhile is instantly loveable, her easy and natural style enables her to play as if all of her lines are spontaneous and truthful, added to her obvious beauty and style she dominates the relationship when she needs to but is just as happy to sit back and give Segel the space he needs. The chemistry between the two leads powers this movie and draws the audience in to the story.
The support cast bring the tale to life with Chris Pratt outstanding as Tom’s best friend, Alison Brie performing as Violet’s sister, Brian Posehn as Tom’s new workmate and the ensemble of academics at the University give strength to the B plot. The film is slightly long and could do with some editing in the final act, however the inevitable conclusion is imaginative, full of life and uplifting.
Segel, Blunt and Stoller have created one of the best romantic comedies of the year which stays truthful to adult relationships while delivering comedy at the level we have come to expect from Stable Apatow.
- Rom-Com Lessons Learned (livingromcom.typepad.com)
- Jason Segel – Jason Segel To Quit ‘how I Met Your Mother’ (contactmusic.com)
- Jason Segel live webchat (thesun.co.uk)
- The Five-Year Engagement (charlotteweston.wordpress.com)
- Jason Segel – Jason Segel Embraces Old Fashioned Comedy In ‘the Five Year Engagement’ (contactmusic.com)