Violet (Emily Blunt) and Tom (Jason Segal) get engaged one year after they start dating, but they learn that planning a wedding while trying to be supportive of one another is harder than it looks.
Jason Segel is having quite a year; first he brought back The Muppets in glorious style, then gave us the warm and endearing Jeff, Who Lives at Home. The Five Year Engagement is not quite up to the standard of the other two movies, but Segal shows – once again – that he is charming, warm and funny on screen. Segal’s interactions with co-star Emily Blunt are sweet and feel genuine, and it is hard to imagine that he is anything other than sweet, even when he is having a breakdown and spending his time in a scruffy bunny costume. Emily Blunt proves that she has great comedic timing, and her heartwarming turn in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was not a fluke. She is equally as sweet as Segal, and the warmth from the duo radiates from the screen.
Blunt and Segal are backed up by what appears to be the best comedic actors from NBC TV shows; Alison Brie from Community plays Violet’s sister Suzie and even though her accent is questionable at times, she proves that she is a great comedic actress, Chris Pratt from Parks and Rec, Chris Parnell from 30 Rock and Mindy Kalig from The Office round out the cast and, while none of them particularly stretch themselves, they support the leading actors well. Rhys Ifans plays Winton Childs, Violent’s teacher, and he reminds us that he can be endearing while being a bit of a rat, and has a rather funny fight with Jason Segal.
Where the film falls down, however, is it’s running time. At just under two hours long, parts of the film feel bloated and drawn out for the sake of comedy that does not always land. Yes, Tom and Violet’s relationship struggles for many different reasons, but there is a whole midsection of the film that feels as though it is moving from scene to scene without the characters learning or growing from the experiences. Thankfully, once things get moving again, the comedy returns and the story moves forward at a good pace – even though the audience may find themselves slightly disorientated – but if the film was 20 minutes shorter, it would have been infinitely better.
The comedy relies on real situations and interactions between people for its humour, and this is where the strength of the film lies. There does not need to be nudity, off colour jokes or gross out comedy for the film to be funny, and this could be why the movie is one of the funniest comedies in recent months. Director Nicholas Stoller has created a film closer to Forgetting Sarah Marshall than get Him To The Greek in terms of humour and theme, and it is clear that Segal and his director have a great working relationship.
In all, The Five-Year Engagement is sweet, warm and funny but loses its way around the midsection. That said, it is one of the best comedies this year so far, and Segal and Blunt prove that being off screen friends leads to strong on screen chemistry.