[Review] – The Five-Year Engagement

8 May

Title: The Five-Year Engagement
Year: 2012
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writers: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans, Jacki Weaver, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, and language throughout
Runtime: 124 min
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Metacritic: 61

I’ll go right ahead and say that the problem I have heard most people have regarding The Five-Year Engagement is actually rather accurate; the film is, indeed, about twenty minutes longer than it really should be. That being said, I still thought the film was pretty damn good. That mostly has to do because of the cast, from the undeniably awesome chemistry between the two leads, played by Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, to the fact that the supporting players are all ridiculously talented people as well. But it also has a lot to do with the screenplay, co-written by Mr. Segel with director Nicholas Stoller, which I found to be both hilarious and actually quite romantic (something that’s, ironically, actually quite rare in romantic comedies), and that between all the raunchiness found a great deal of heart and quite a bit of substance, too.

There’s something here that prevents me from grading this film in the A-range, it’s just a bit too uneven for me to do so, but the fact is that this is still a truly solid choice to go check out at the theaters right now. And that’s because it’s a different sort of film in many ways. I mean, the things it gives us is stuff we’ve seen before in many movies like it, but the way it chooses to combine and approach them feels rather new here, which I think is a pretty neat feat for this one to pull off.

Like I said, the success this one achieves starts with our two leads, Mr. Segel and Ms. Blunt. They are two actors I really, really like and who are reaching high points in their respective careers right now. Mr. Segel, of course, spearheaded last year’s impressive reboot of The Muppets (which I gave an A to and was my 17th favorite film of 2011), and has already been in Jeff, Who Lives at Home this year (which I gave an A- to and stands as my fifth favorite film of the year to date). Not to mention he’s dating Michelle Williams. So yeah, life’s not too shabby for Jason Segel right now.

Ms. Blunt is also having quite the moment in her career, and has four films coming out this year. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, which has already been released (and to which I gave a B- to), this one, Your Sister’s Sister, and, of course, Rian Johnson‘s Looper, which I couldn’t be more excited about. So, yes, it seems she’s about to have quite the year. Anyways, personal adoration for these two actors aside, it’s awesome what they bring to this movie. Mr. Segel is his usual warm self, and the chemistry he has with Ms. Blunt is just extraordinary, not to mention that, I would imagine precisely because she’s acting alongside such a chill guy, I think this is the loosest we have ever seen Emily Blunt on screen, and that works tremendously well here.

It’s their charm that makes this film work during those final minutes when you start realizing this one’s dragging on a bit and should have been shorter, they’re the ones that really still keep you watching. They play Tom and Violent, and like some promotional material for this film has said, we’ll be meeting them at the point in a couple’s life in which most romantic comedies end: their happy engagement. Because they are indeed a happy couple, and they love each other to bits and everything. The thing is, life keeps getting in the way, and the walk down the aisle keeps getting postponed and postponed, and as a result their relationship becomes strained.

I was sold on that, especially with how The Five-Year Engagement decided to showed it. I mean, it had all the necessary stuff of an R-rated comedy, including some rather gross stuff, but it also was remarkably smart in how it showed those little things, how it showed life being a bitch and being a challenge to true love. And I loved how it approached all of that, it was just a really touching film at times, and honest in the best of ways. It’s hard not to get behind stuff like that in a movie like this.

That stuff is especially great because that human element goes a long way in making the jokes and the characters that much better, which is precisely the reason why most of the romantic comedies we get in a given year are  so bad. It’s obviously much easier to really get to love characters when they’re played by these two, and even easier when their required entourage of friends and acquaintances is comprised of people as hilarious and instantly likable as Alison Brie, Chris Pratt and Mindy Kaling. Every single member of this cast is supremely charismatic, has impeccable comic timing, and can totally steal a scene from each other at any given time (Mr. Pratt, it must be said, does most of the scene stealing here). It’s just nifty when you have people like these together.

I loved The Five-Year Engagement. I think it’s one of the most worthwhile romantic comedies I’ve seen in a while, and I think people should really appreciate it. Sure, it’s too long, but that only starts showing once we get into the final act of the film, it’s not as though you go by the whole film thinking it’s dragging along. And even if that final act feels a bit too safe and contrived, I think what came before it earned such a finale. Because this film, as hilarious as it is (and it is) is just wicked smart in how it depicts a relationship and the depth it gives it. It’s not often that you get to be so touched and to care so much about two characters even though you know how it’s all going to end, and you have to love this film for it.

Grade: B+


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