Published on July 6th, 2012 | by Sean0
Review: The 5-Year Engagement
The opening of this film is where many other rom-coms would often be finishing things up: at the wonderfully awkward yet heartfelt proposal scene, with a few laughs here and there, but the prime focus being on the romance. This pretty much sets the tone for Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel’s newest collaboration, after proving themselves a formidable duo with the hilarious Forgetting Sarah Marshall and last year’s glorious Muppets revival.
You may have heard this film described as the movie that turns the whole concept of the romantic-comedy on it’s head. While it’s not exactly a game-changer, it’s an incredibly refreshing take on the genre, and in my opinion definitely the most ‘realistic’ of these type of films I’ve seen since 500 Days of Summer.
The 5 Year Engagement focuses on the extremely rocky road that couple Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) take on their way to making it down the isle. After their initial proposal, Violet finds out she has landed her dream job in a Michigan University for two years. Gallantly, but unfortunately for Tom, he decides he has to give up his successful culinary career in the local restauraunt, naively telling himself “I can cook anywhere”. Of course this means the wedding is delayed, so while Tom’s boorish best man Alex (Chris Pratt) and Violet’s posh sister Suzie (Community’s Alison Brie) have a dream wedding after hooking up at Tom & Violet’s engagement party, the unlucky couple are left to bide their time and start getting to know their new surroundings.
As time moves on Violet becomes increasingly successful at work, garnering the attention of suave yet slimy professor Winton (Rhys Ifans, hilariously skilled at Tae Kwon Do for some reason) while Tom struggles to adapt to the stay-at-home spouse role. This leads to him taking up hunting, beard-growing and shower-avoiding, much to Violet’s annoyance. After a particular disastrous night out everything comes to a head,and you’re left genuinely worrying that nothing is going to work out.
One of this film’s biggest strengths is the fact that many of the problems Tom and Violet experience do feel like real situations, and they resonate. They aren’t just wacky comedic hijinxes the couple happen to get into. Much like The 40-Year-Old Virgin, 5 Year Engagement works by blending both raunchy comedy as well as proper emotional drama. However while Steve Carrell’s film may have catered more towards the comedic side, this film does the opposite, the development of the relationships and the trials and tribulations experienced taking precedence over the comedy. This isn’t to say that 5 Year Engagement is devoid of humour however, as I did find myself laughing my head off a lot during the first and third acts (This is certainly the first film I’ve seen where every time we cut to a relative’s funeral the audience erupted in laughter.)
It’s during the middle of the film, when we focus on Tom and Violet separately, that the tone shifts more towards the something like Funny People…the comedy is there, but it takes a back seat to the drama.
Performances are great all around, I found the most laughs were to be had when Tom was with his group of stay-at-home man-buddies, or when Violet was with her psych colleagues. Some great characters there that, while not given a huge amount to do, certainly bring the funny.
One of the stand-outs for me was Alison Brie. I’m a huge Community fan, so seeing her pop up was simply wonderful. She even manages to do a pretty decent British accent, only slipping up once or twice.
She also has arguably the film’s funniest scene with Emily Blunt, which had myself and the girlfriend in absolute stitches. I’m not going to spoil it, but I will say that it involves…interesting…impressions of Cookie Monster and Elmo!
All around, a very enjoyable film. Much better than I expected. Not neccessarily a couples film, but seeing it with the other half will definitely add to the experience! So do go see it. It’s worth the cinema trip. Just be ready for the drama as well as the belly laughs.