The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement

***

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

The latest rom-com from the unstoppable Judd Apatow stable, The Five-Year Engagement reunites the Forgetting Sarah Marshall team of writer-star Jason Segel and writer-director Nicolas Stoller, but unfortunately it does so with disappointingly middling results. As fresh and enjoyable as The Forty-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up were when they raunched their way towards big, genre-rejuvinating laughs, the Apatow comedy brand is now starting to feel overly familiar. Even, truth be told, a touch stale.

Deciding to get engaged, happy couple Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together. When research student Violent secures a dream academic post in far-off Michigan though, they agree to postpone the wedding and Tom puts his career as an up-and-coming chef on hold. While very much in love, problems arise when her post is extended further.

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Boasting an overlong running-time in need of a good trim, Stoller’s engagement dramedy once again focuses on the relationship woes between a schlubby average Joe and the out-of-his-league hottie he’s managed to nab. In spite of such familiarity, the problem isn’t that we seen it all before – it’s that we’ve seen it all done better. Much better.

Certainly, the central premise is the perfect clothesline upon which to hang a rom-com, since many viewers will be able to relate to the conflicts caused when couples are pulled in opposite directions by their careers. But while offering up enough insightful moments throughout to just about sustain our interest, the balance between drama and comedy is often handled awkwardly while a fair amount of the humour falls flat.

For sure, it’s softer than the rest of Apatow’s gross-out oeuvre, but even the best scenes - such as Violet’s argument with her sister (Alison Brie), which has to be spoken in the voices of Elmo and The Cookie Monster - feel a touch laboured. Segel fans will enjoy the fact that he’s playing his relentlessly optimistic nice guy staple as per usual and Chris Pratt gets some chuckle-worthy lines as the best bud (using the term “Poosh” as a way to describe Michael Jordan going to the toilet is worth a half-star on its own), but it’s the always charming Emily Blunt who impresses most here. She deserves better.

Reviewed on: 19 Jul 2012
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A young couple find it's tough to make it down the aisle.
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