The Five-Year Engagement Review
Another depressingly competent rom com.
I have hit another one of those Twilight Zone-esque episodes in my movie reviewing career wherein everything I see is at least decent. This may not sound like a bad thing, but the fact is my funniest and best reviews are all for the worst, most disappointing movies and I can’t seem to find one. I mean really, where is Nicholas Cage when you really need him?
So this movie was well done. I have become more of a Jason Segel fan since watching How I Met Your Mother and Emily Blunt is really hot in my mind (plus a good actress). In this film they exhibit some really good chemistry and accurately portray the agony of a modern relationship (a more cynical and bitter reviewer might say they accurately portray how a woman can destroy a man in a relationship. Good thing I am so well adjusted). The film itself is well done and has some really funny moments. It does seem to drag on at times, and there are some scenes that are either completely unnecessary or extend well past their freshness date. At first I was prepared to lambast the film for the slow pacing, but as things progressed I suddenly realized that the film was accurately giving me the feeling of what a five year engagement must feel like. This makes Judd Apatow one of the smartest or luckiest movie makers in the industry.
That’s not to say there weren’t moments when I was hoping to find a fast forward button in my box of Whoppers, but overall I really like the idea of a filmmaker creating a feeling and theme without having to slap us in the face with it. There was another less subtle but still well delivered theme having to do with stale donuts as well (although I question the validity of the psychology involved) that also made for a decent subtext.
The story is, of course, of a five year engagement. Jason Segel (The Muppets, Despicable Me, Forgetting Sarah Marshal) and Emily Blunt (the Devil Wears Prada, the Adjustment Bureau, the Young Victoria) play Tom and Violet, a young successful San Francisco couple the likes of which I meet all the time out here (and occasionally want to run over with my car). He is a sous chef at a high end restaurant and she is a graduate student in psychology. They get engaged but when she fails to get into Berkeley and instead gets into Michigan he has to quit his job so they can both move to Ann Arbor. She excels in her program while he descends into a frozen hell and has to get a job in a sandwich shop. The relationship starts to really crumble and to be perfectly honest I am going to put the blame on this one directly on Violet. She is completely disconnected from her partner’s pain (sometimes literally) and even when he brings up his issues more or less sits around hoping he gets used to it or something. I actually found this refreshing as a study in relationships and it was nice to see someone other than the guy painted as the the insensitive one. Of course this role reversal kind of robbed Jason Segel of whatever machismo he might have had, and no offense Jason but you never seems to play a role overburdened with testosterone.
Left to his own devices Tom has a funny episode where he devolves into a Michigan hunting woodsman (complete with Swamp People beard) which is probably some of the funniest stuff. The relationship continues to degenerate, abetted by Violets professor Winton Childs (Rhys Ifans-Notting Hill, Anonymous, Little Nicky) untoward interest in her. The comedy kind of takes a back seat to the drama as things go from bad to worse. Relationship chaos ensues. Stuff happens.
The stars. I was laughing out loud at multiple points. One star. Well acted from pretty much everyone. One star. The chemistry between Segal and Blunt was palpable. One star. The supporting actors, especially best friend Alex (Chris Pratt-Wanted, Parks & Rec, Everwood. Parks & Rec image courtesy of the TV Show T Shirts) added a lot to the film. One star. An honest (and successful) effort to add subtext. One star. A realistic look at a dysfunctional relationship. One star. The movie managed to make San Francisco look like the greatest city in the world (which, in my opinion, it may well be. If not it is only second to New York). One star. The Tom as a hunter scenes were especially entertaining. One star. A bonus star for overall keeping me entertained in a film that should have had me snoozing. Total: nine stars.
The black holes. In spite of believing the movie makers did this on purpose to add the feeling of being engaged for five years, you really feel every one of the 124 minutes. One black hole. There were a few scenes in particular that stretched on for an eon. One black hole. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If you are going to eat an R rating anyway throw in some nudity please. There was a perfect opportunity towards the end. One black hole. SPOILER ALERT. The ending seemed a little trite and actually did not really resolve any of the main issues. One black hole. Total: four black holes.
A grand total of five stars. A good score for a rom com, and perfect for a five year engagement (I swear that wasn’t on purpose). Worth seeing? Sort of, but only as a date. Good date movie? Yes and no. Yes in that it has everything a woman would want to see in a film about romance (and also you will probably compare favorably to pasty white boy Jason Segel. He’s like a young Raymond Burr). However, I am actually more concerned about what this film could potentially do to you as the male viewer. If you are of a dark or paranoid mindset the destruction of Tom’s life in the interest of Violet’s career will probably have you leaving your date at the theater in order to pursue a life as a Buddhist monk (they are cool with internet porn, right? I had better check on that soon). However, if you can stomach that this will probably make for a decent date.
Thanks for reading. More films to see this weekend, including the Raven, Pirates, and Safe. Hopefully one of them will suck (my money is on Safe). Follow me on Twitter @Nerdkungfu. If you have a comment about this review feel free to post it here, and if you have suggestions or specific questions feel free to email me at email@example.com. Talk to you soon.