Planning for a marriage is never easy, but putting one off for five years is something else. So instead of constructing some sort of procedural happy-go-lucky romantic comedy, Nicholas Stoller and co-screenwriter/star Jason Segel created The Five-Year Engagement. The hilarious comedy, while not as liberal as previous works like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, shows that even with a little conservatism, a romantic comedy can be whimsical and hilarious.
Now for all the good that The Five-Year Engagement has, there are defining flaws in it. By no means is it better than Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but its not worse than any of the previous rom-coms that seems to be easily churned and burned. Instead the film’s greatest weakness is its run time and its inability to stay consistent.
The film starts off in a rather dire situation. Tom (played by Segel) is desperately trying to make his proposal on time, but is constantly being halted by his future fiancé Violet (Emily Blunt). Even when they make it to their destination they seem to find weird ways to stall the impending question, and when its finally popped, the real journey to the alter begins. The couple’s wedding is continually stalled for strange and comedic reasons. Tom’s best friend Alex (Chris Pratt) ends up impregnating Violet’s emotionally unstable but hysterical sister Suzie (Allison Brie), they end up getting married, then elder family members are dropping like flies, and Violet accepts an offer from the psychology department at the University of Michigan, which forces Tom to sacrifice his job at a prestigious restaurant in San Francisco.
Although there will be laughs in the movie, its hard to sit through a movie that feels a bit tedious and elongated for the sake of fulfilling its title. Five years is a long time, and to try to cut a movie that tells the story that takes place for that period of time is even harder. We begin to see Tom and Violet’s relationship deteriorate before our eyes. As Violet’s career progresses, Tom’s begins to devolve. He is reduced to making bagel sandwiches at a local bakery, and not only his misery is seen as a source of Violet’s unhappiness, but we are forced to watch him breakdown for a third of the movie.
That kind of twist was pretty much inevitable. There is no way that a story can progress without a little tension. And maybe it is that kind of predictability combined with the lengthy run time that dampens the value of this movie. The progression doesn’t feel as organic as it should, and with no idea what year of the engagement it is, the film starts to fill the gaps with unnecessary but still funny characters like Bill (Chris Parnell).
Still, the movie manages to keep its head above water thanks to the wonderful chemistry between Blunt and Segel. Although a majority of the laughs come out of the misery that Segel expense, there were times where I wanted to see more of Brie and Pratt’s characters. Their unexpected hook-up was perhaps one of the funniest parts of the movie, and Stoller manages to use them for a short amount of time.
For what its worth The Five-Year Engagement is a funny movie, and its jokes hit their mark, but its all that time in between that makes you start to wonder when the movie will actually end. But then another joke comes along and you forget that. But then there is that comedic pause again. It’s a cycle that you just don’t want to be in but still want to try out.