#103 The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement (2012)

Dir: Nicholas Stoller

It may have the same writing team as ‘The Muppets’, but apart from impressions of Elmo and Cookie Monster, there’s not a lot in common between this film and Jim Henson’s creations… though they are both pretty funny.

Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are a couple who get engaged (obviously) after just one amazing year together. However, once he likes it so much he’s put a ring on it, their lives start changing with employment and relocating, putting huge strains on their relationship, and pushing it literally to the breaking point.

I like Jason Segel very much, and Emily Blunt too for that matter, so for me the pairing of them was lovely to watch, not quite as much as the comedic chemistry between Steve Carrell and Tina Few, but still they obviously get along well and are both enjoyable screen presences. A small issue with the film is the title. You know from the title that they will get engaged and to be fair that is within the first few minutes, but then you also know that the wedding won’t follow swiftly, in fact, you are well aware how long their engagement will be prolonged. The skill in the writing of this film is in making some of the wait quite enjoyable to keep you interested.

As you may have noticed if you read some of my other reviews, a bugbear I have is with actors using accents that don’t suit them when it’s not necessary for the part. This film made me almost jump for joy in the way they were using their own accents, with Emily Blut not trying to be inexplicably American, and Rhys Ifans still sounding very Welsh. In the setting of the way that those two characters are academics, and thus may move wherever is suitable for their studies and research, there was no problem in having them talk in their own accents, nobody brought it up in the story nor was any convoluted explaining needed, they just simple speak as they do… Voila!

On the subject of Welsh actor Rhys Ifans, he’s grand in this, brilliantly charming and creepy in perfectly balanced mesure. There’s even a funny scene where he’s getting chased, and does a fantastic job of being not quite right in the way he handles the confrontation, which really works. There are also excellent small parts for both lead characters friends and family, with Chris Pratt (who I am rapidly becoming a huge fan of from watching ‘Parks and Recreation’ absolutely stealing most scenes and lines.

All in all, this is a romantic comedy that tries to do something different with the genre, rather than everything ending with the proposal, that’s how it starts, but there’s just a bigger gap from there to the wedding. There are some bits that could have been weeded out of the storyline, and maybe 5 years is a bit long, the ‘Three-Year Engagement’ might have condensed the humour better, but still, I like the team both behind and in front of the camera, and I hope they continue to work together well.


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