Cinema Review – The Five Year Engagement
Released last week here in the UK, The Five Year Engagement promises a lot, but does it deliver? Teri takes a look…
Judd Apatow has a magic kind of touch. As a producer, director and a writer, everything he touches usually turns to gold; there have been very few duds amongst his solid body of work (let’s forget Year One, Zookeeper and Zohan don’t exist then, shall we?), but the great films have really been just that – great. From the generation-defining Superbad to bittersweet classics like The 40 Year-Old Virgin, and the more recently Bridesmaids – there’s always been a practical amount of heart and intelligence to the humour in his movies, which is something I’ve enjoyed and respected
The Five-Year Engagement is indeed Apatow-produced. Written and directed – and also co-produced – by Nicholas Stoller, the man behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall – who for me has yet to impress since – Engagement revolves around the story of recently engaged couple Tom and Violet and the obstacles that are constantly thrown in their way, preventing them from making it down the aisle.
Almost immediately after the announcement of their betrothal, Violet lands herself a research placement in snowy Michigan, seemingly a million miles away from their sunny home in San Francisco. So they both move out, Violet blooms in her new position and Tom drags along behind her, unable to find a role as fulfilling as his chef’s job in California. So really, at the bottom of it all, it’s about success-balance in relationships, about sacrifices one or the other partner makes and how to be selfish without causing damage. Is that even possible?
It’s great to see Jason Segel partner up with Stoller again, and even better to see rom-com darling and overall lovely lady Emily Blunt involved – she really is the best part about Engagement, from her wrinkle-nosed laughs to her almost effortless grace and natural humour. Dozens of other familiar faces crop up here and there, from Apatow/Stoller stock favourites to biggies in the American sitcom world – Community’s Alison Brie and Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt. But what The Five-Year Engagement suffers from are those countless supporting characters who are, at times, tiresome to keep up with. It’s the same issue I had with Get Him to the Greek – weaker characters that are slotted in to ‘pad out’ the film, making it overlong and awkwardly paced.
Don’t get me wrong – it is very funny. The script is fun and fluffy-light; a lot of the comedic devices are quite cleverly realized, from Violet’s Princess Di costume at the ‘Make Your Own Superhero’ party to Mindy Kaling’s The Notebook obsessed fellow research student (although, isn’t that the same character she plays in The Office? Hm). Brie and Blunt’s Sesame Street impersonations are a treat, too.
The film just falls short of an extra star for being too long and too clunky – the five-year engagement indeed, towards the end I was beginning to wonder if I really cared that they got married or not.
About The Author – Teri Williams
Teri is a former film student from Edinburgh and currently works in book publishing in London. She is a fan of bad taste films, horror, fantasy, science fiction and vintage teen comedy and has been described by her friends as a “proper nerd” and a human imdb. She can be found speaking nonsense under the twitter name @msenidcoleslaw and scribbling similar nonsense on her blog Enid’s Revenge