Just as the ads and posters have been claiming, The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy that shows the honest truth behind what happens after all the typical rom-com ends. The couple is now together, so what’s next?
In this case, Tom (co-writer Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) have been together for one year. The film opens with Tom’s awesome proposal, jumping back and forth from that to their first meeting. The strong filmmaking techniques employed during this scene exemplify the maturing writing and directing styles of Segel and co-writer/director Nicholas Stoller.
We meet their friends and family shortly thereafter while watching the two begin the preparations for their wedding – but things are about to get complicated. Both Tom and Violet love their current situation. Their relationship is solid, filled with the stuff that rom-coms are made of. Tom has a fantastic job as a kitchen head and chef in a San Francisco fine dining restaurant. Violet is a promising psychology major hoping to get accepted into Berkeley’s post-grad program. The wrench thrown into their perfect gears is Violet being declined by Berkeley, but accepted to the University of Michigan. Being the perfect supporting fiance, Tom is willing to be uprooted and transplanted into a remote and odd small town. There aren’t any high-end restaurants there for him to work at, so he keeps reminding himself that this is only a two-year commitment after which they will return to a state of stasis in their beloved bay area. But things never go as planned.
It’s shortly after the move to Michigan that we encounter the biggest flaw in The Five-Year Engagement: in a bout with unhappiness and the loss of dreams and identity, Tom goes a little crazy. The large zany subplot that follows feels more like a big set of deleted scenes than something that would appear in a final cut. Although a good chunk of laughs come from this side-story, the two things that it emphasizes have already been well established: the passing of time and Tom’s unhappiness. The final runtime of The Five-Year Engagement is 124 minutes. Some films can pull off the two-plus hour runtime without feeling long, but The Five-Year Engagement doesn’t. It feels long. Had this strange subplot been removed, the movie truly would have benefited from it.
The Five-Year Engagement is hardly like any of the other romantic comedies out there. One, its humor is abnormal, yet consistently laugh-out-loud hilarious. Not only are Segel and Blunt great, but co-stars Chris Pratt and Alison Brie steal scenes with their comedic performances. It is capable of portraying a sappy love without ever feeling sappy. The story takes a direction away from the norm that reveals a thick layer of brutal honesty that simply doesn’t exist in the average rom-com. It’s not afraid to dive into seriousness, which adds yet another layer of truth to this genuine flick.
If you’re tired of the same old Katherine Heigl chick flicks, don’t mind R-rated content and want to get a dose of reality with your chick flick, then The Five-Year Engagement is for you. A chemistry exists between Segel and Blunt that leaves you jealous of their relationship and the laughs are well-deserved. Check it out!
Photo credit: Universal Pictures