The Five Year Engagement – Review
July 2, 2012 Leave a comment
Review by FilmFellaJames – 7/10
It’s a rare occurrence for a romcom to be both commercially appealing but also quite good. Getting the mix right is a difficult thing to accomplish these days. Romcoms are either generic and formulaic or wacky and unrealistic, sometimes both, but, then there is this, The Five Year Engagement, which in all honesty is a genuinely good movie, even if it is a romcom.
Jason Segel is Tom, a talented chef working in San Francisco, Emily Blunt is Violet, a hotty academic eager to develop her doughnut theory within a top notch university, en route to becoming a professor. It’s an odd couple match up from the off similar to Knocked up where awkward looking beefy stoner Seth Rogen gets to finesse Katherine Heigl’s undercarriage. The two lovers embark on a mission to get married, but life throws multiple curve balls at them delaying the nuptials until things go from good to bad when Violet is offered a spot at Michigan University, far far away from the home they have enjoyed together in San Fran. Tom decides he can cook anywhere and they re-locate to pursue Violets dream. Nice feminist touch for a mainstream movie. Things quickly deteriorate however when it becomes apparent that Tom is a wishful thinking asshole relying on being able to be who he is in a city that is less than accommodating to his skill. He takes a job making fancy sandwiches and settles into the routine of his new surroundings, hunting, knitting and general house husbandry. Violet explores her academic pursuits and quickly comes to the attention of her boss Winton, played with grace and comedic subtly by Rhys Ifans. It then becomes apparent to Tom that placing his life on the back burner for his missus also means watching his sanity unravel as he slips slowly into the abyss of the frozen wastes of Michigan where growing a sharp beard and wearing Tuxedo knitwear become his day to day tasks.
This is a movie of three acts. Judd Apatow (being one of the producers underpinning this offering) movies such as the 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Funny People tend to follow this formula, an ebb and flow of real life situations sharply punctuated by great witty dialogue and amusing visual gags. The first portion of the film is light hearted and hilarious, with many of the best lines coming from his on-screen regulars such as, Mindy Kaling, Gerry Bednob and of course Segel himself. We learn about the main characters and enjoy the adventure they set off on. I liked the way that the dream bubble bursts for Tom as he goes through the motions of finding new employment, something personal to me at this point in my life and I enjoyed meeting the quirky ensemble that make up Violets new academic team. The strength of this particular portion is in how well the bit part characters fill up the overall enjoyment of the chemistry between its two stars, Blunt and Segel. David Paymer, Stegman in Payback, Brian Posehn and Kevin Hart all excel in their roles, in fact all of the cast were awesome. I wont wax lyrical about it, but definitely my favourite part of the film. I laughed my ass off.
The second part of the movie, gets a bit emotional as romcoms tend to get. I don’t quite understand why it is necessary for a film with great comedic momentum to go and get all soap opera’d up. Is it that this is the only way that girls can get to enjoy a romcom, is it about connecting to the female psyche? Why do we have to go down to the dark side all the time Judd? Yes, real life ain’t exactly a barrel of laughs, but surely if it ain’t broke, why break it. Tom and Violet then go their separate ways and what’s left for the final portion of the film becomes clichéd and slightly irritatingly unrealistic, undoing all of the good work that the first portion of the film put together.
Ultimately I guess, if your making a romcom, then rules apply and a romcom needs a bit of sad ass drama to get the ladies gushing. Guys don’t do feelings, we prefer laughs and explosions and if we ain’t getting explosions then the laughs should be a plenty. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of laughs, but the way the pair break up is shonky and half assed. The scene where Tom and his parents are having dinner seems to emphasise this fact. Couples don’t have to be a perfect match, it’s all about how you make it work. Violets actions throughout the second portion of the film for example don’t really wash with the character we are introduced to in the beginning and for me, that’s my only real criticism. However, this did not put me off the film altogether and I would watch it again, I would probably just lose interest when Tom loses interest in the film.
I’m going to give this film a solid 7 out of 10 though for the genre it is placed in. It’s better than Sleepless in Seattle and stuff like that but it ain’t no Annie Hall. A worthy watch with the missus, plus you will get mad points if you take her to see this instead of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. You might even learn a few things. Good job Segel and Apatow.