out of Five
Running time: 124
Watchable comedy with superb comic performances and a steady stream of decent gags, but it's also a good twenty minutes too long and is occasionally let down by some lazy plotting.
What's it all about?
Directed by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), The Five Year Engagement stars Jason Segel as Tom, a San Francisco chef who proposes to his girlfriend Violet (Emily Blunt) after a year of being together. However, though they're both excited about the wedding, they agree to put it off when Violet is offered a post-doctorate psychology position at the University of Michigan, working alongside Professor Winton Childs (Rhys Ifans).
When the couple move to Michigan, Tom struggles to find a job and ends up working on a deli counter, while Violet's career goes from strength to strength. Eventually, the various pressures cause a strain on their relationship, which isn't helped by a) Winton developing a crush on Violet and b) Violet's sister Suzie (Alison Brie) marrying and starting a family with Tom's dopey best friend Alex (Chris Pratt) after they hook up at the engagement party.
Blunt is utterly adorable as Violet, combining a ready wit, goofy charm and a hint of playful sexuality that makes a refreshing change from run-of-the-mill romcom heroines; she also has good chemistry with Segel, who is his usual likeable, slightly dopey self. There's also strong comic support from the likes of Ifans, Pratt and Mindy Kaling (as one of Violet's colleagues), though the film is almost completely stolen by Alison Brie (TV's Trudy Campbell or Annie Edison, depending on which show you watch), who not only nails a note-perfect English accent but also nabs all the best lines and provides the film's biggest laughs (in the “Use your Elmo voice” scene).
Stoller maintains a good mix of physical and verbal comedy throughout, but it's fair to say that some of the jokes don't work, such as a couple of the violent sight gags or the contrivance of having time pass by cutting to the funeral of yet another grandparent. Similarly, the film is at least twenty minutes too long, although it does at least pull off a suitably romantic climax.
The other problem is that none of the obstacles that keep the couple from marrying seem very convincing. Similarly, the plot is often frustratingly lazy, most notably in a scene that jumps forward a lengthy period of time, where Tom has a grizzly beard and seems to be having a nervous breakdown – the script requires the audience to accept that this just happened, whereas it would seem reasonable to assume that trained psychologist Violet would have noticed something was wrong and addressed the issue before things got this far.
The Five Year Engagement is an entirely watchable comedy that is ultimately worth seeing purely for Alison Brie's scene-stealing support performance.
The Five Year Engagement (12A)