Review: The Five Year Engagement

Written by: Mark Cappuccio

Relationships are complicated organisms, they can bring life, love and happiness or simply mutate and grow, killing all around them.

This new film starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt tells the story of young couple in love and their aforementioned five year engagement which is in turns funny, tragic and sometimes downright average.

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt in The Five Year Engagement

Now, one of the unwritten rules of film making is that romantic comedies should never be any longer than 100 minutes (preferably 90 minutes) so they don’t outstay their welcome. Case in point; some of the very best rom-coms are of a manageable length: When Harry Met Sally – 96 mins, Groundhog Day – 97 mins, Juno – 92 mins and the awesomely underrated 500 Days of Summer – 91 mins. The Five Year Engagement clocks in at 124 minutes and it could easily lose at least 25 minutes, which would have kicked the script into a funnier, leaner shape and made it a darn sight more original than it really is.

Jason Segel plays Tom, a sous chef living his dream in a cool San Francisco restaurant, Emily Blunt is his girlfriend Violet, who is about to graduate with a PhD and needs to find a job. They are of course madly in love and have some clichéd ‘kooky’ friends in fellow chef Alex (a brilliant Chris Pratt) and her uptight sister Suzie (Alison Brie). Things from here proceed like a screenwriting 101 class, Violet has to move to snowy Michigan to pursue her dream job, Tom gives his up to follow his love and finds unhappiness and boredom in the small town.

Blunt is brilliant in her role, suitably quirky and loveable but I have a major problem with Segel as a leading man, although it seems that with box office success he has found the freedom to write what he likes and get it made no matter the quality.

The Five Year Engagement is worth seeing for the supporting characters alone, who get all the best lines and scenes. Plus with Pratt on top form which has been honed in the excellent sitcom Parks and Recreation he steals every scene he is in and shows that he has a career on the big screen in the making.

So you could grab your partner and head down to check this overblown, predictable and overlong film out. Or, my advice is rent or buy 500 Days of Summer instead and see something that is not only funny but really clever as well.

Author: Mark Cappuccio

Mark grew up as a ragged street urchin in Bermondsey and escaped the soot of the city to the green hills of North Wales to study English and Film at a cheap university. While there he started up the university magazine and acted as editor and chief contributor, he also made three short films, starred and produced in some plays and true to form played an excellent Scrooge one Christmas long ago. He fled Wales as they did not like his Dj’ing and returned to Londinium, where he now teaches Film & Media studies, works on his book, writes a blog, short stories and also finds time to work as ScreenTrade magazines’ resident film reviewer and has written the successful and popular ‘Box Office Banter’ articles for the last 10 years. One of his weirdest film memories is seeing The Empire Strikes Back as a child and then chasing off a man trying to break into a car behind the cinema because he thought he was Chewbacca! He has too many favourite films and hates being asked but will be watching Singin’ in the Rain for the rest of his days.

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