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Written by: Sam Fragoso on April 26, 2012

April 26, 2012 | 18 comments | Featured, Old Format

The Five-Year Engagement

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are some of the finest, quirkiest, and charismatic actors working in the movies today. Whether it’s Segel in the latest Duplass brother’s film Jeff, Who Lives At Home, or Blunt in the quiet, likely unseen romance Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, these two young, nuanced, soon to be stars, each represent diamonds in the ruff that is mainstream filmmaking.

This is precisely why The Five-Year Engagement is such a let down: with a consistently tired script filled with redundant, often unfunny humor and lacking any sort of natural rhythm, both immensely talented performers take a back seat to dull slapstick comedy and grating pacing.

What’s not to be criticized, however, is the chemistry between our two protagonists, Tom (Segel) and Violet (Blunt). Tom is head chef at a high-end restaurant in San Francisco, and Violet is waiting to be accepted into the Social science program at the University of Michigan.

As the film opens Tom proposes to Violet. She enthusiastically says yes. They’re in love. But before the wedding can be planned, an acceptance letter arrives in the mail for Violet.

Being the warm and understanding guy he is Tom agrees to relocate to Michigan, giving up both his fantastic job and friends, for the sake of his hopeful wife to fulfill her academic dreams. Problems arise, as one may expect (who the hell moves from San Francisco to Michigan?). Still, the idealistic couple believes in the notion that love will prevail and conquer all problems.

Stoller, in now his third directorial feature, tells the simple story of two people falling in and out of love. In The Five-Year Engagement we see romance form, dwindle, and then rekindle again. Tom and Violet, as most of us do, have their highs and lows. The film asks if loving someone passionately is enough to work through life altering complications?

Jason Segel (left) and Emily Blunt (right) kiss before a big move in "The Five Year Engagement"

While The Five Year Engagement may be more sentimental and romantic than Stoller’s past efforts (the cute, funny Forgetting Sarah Marshall or the wacky low-brow raunch fest Get Him To The Greek), it’s also his least effective.

There’s no questioning the intimacy between Tom and Violet. But the film drags our likable protagonists through so much ineptly staged, utterly contrived sequences, that so many of the moments worth caring for get lost in the shuffle of amateur screenwriting.

For example, each character has their bout with another person, each character inexplicably misunderstands eachother, each character goes through an identity crisis, and each character fails to appreciate what they have in front of them. This is just another frustrating trademark of Hollywood cinema: having smart characters perform or say, utterly idiotic things.

Albeit all the flaws, The Five-Year Engagement isn’t worthless, it’s just not worth watching. It stoops its intellect to crass, cheap humor that consistently underwhelms (every time a character mentions death, the film cuts to a funeral where an elderly grandmother or grandfather has died), and places our adoring leads in dull situations.

In short, The Five-Year Engagement takes a whole lot of time to get to where it’s going, and when we finally arrive, it’s not nearly worth the build up.

And no one enjoys an anticlimax: especially in romance.

Rating: ★★☆☆

The Five-Year Engagement

The Five-Year Engagement (2012)

Cast: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Writer: Nicholas Stoller, Jason Segel

Runtime: 124 minutes

Genre: romance, comedy

Trailer The Five-Year Engagement


There are 18 comments for this post.

  1. sati on April 26, 2012 8:56 am

    It’s a shame Emily Blubt doesn’t appear in better films. She is such a great actress and for some reason she either stars in generic comedies or movies nobody sees. I agree about the chemistry thing, Blunt actually always has great chemistry with her partner in the movie. Nice review!

  2. Sam Fragoso on April 26, 2012 10:37 am

    Definitely. Blunt is so talented, it saddens me to see her in roles like this. She’ll get there though.

  3. Steven Flores on April 26, 2012 1:16 pm

    I wanted to see this but I heard that one of the film’s problems is that it goes on for so long. Why are comedies are trying so hard to go beyond 2 hours. That’s one of the complaints I had for Bridesmaids. I liked the film but I felt some scenes dragged for me and I felt it needed more trimming.

  4. Sam Fragoso on April 26, 2012 1:39 pm

    It felt very like the grating pacing of Bridesmaids. It’s too long, not that I have an issue with longer films – there just needs to be reason.

    Thanks for reading and commenting as always Steven.

  5. Paul Arrand Rodgers on April 26, 2012 2:09 pm

    Hey buddy, I’ll have you know that Michigan is a perfectly awesome state. Assuming Blunt’s character got into U of M, Ann Arbor is practically the San Francisco of the mid-west!

  6. Sam Fragoso on April 26, 2012 2:51 pm

    Yes, I’ve been to Ann Arbor and Michigan multiple times, with a great deal of family there. Not to mention, I’m from the midwest.

    Once you see the film, you’ll understand my joke.

    Thanks for reading.

  7. dirtywithclass on April 26, 2012 5:37 pm

    Damm…this one seemed like it was going to be good. I guess not

  8. Sam Fragoso on April 26, 2012 8:40 pm

    Go out and see it, if you feel compelled to.

    Love to hear your thoughts on the film.

  9. Fitz on April 27, 2012 11:43 pm

    Some scenes did feel like they were thrown in because the film needed conflict. Beyond that I enjoyed Segel and Blunt’s scenes a great deal.

  10. Sam Fragoso on April 28, 2012 5:47 am

    Do you mean individually, or when they are together?

  11. Amy on April 28, 2012 9:00 am

    Nice review. I’m probably going to see this no matter what, because I just love Jason Segel in any and every incarnation.

  12. Sam Fragoso on April 28, 2012 11:48 am

    I really enjoy Segel’s film presence as well. Have you seen Jeff, Who Lives At Home?

  13. Franz Patrick on April 28, 2012 11:34 pm

    I’m still recovering from “The Muppets” Jason Segel. I like him and everything but I feel like I can only take small dosages of that guy. Charming on interviews, though.

    I’m interested in watching the movie because of the Segel-Blunt pair-up. Never would’ve considered it in a million years. Good to hear they at least have some semblance of chemistry.

  14. Sam Fragoso on April 29, 2012 6:49 pm

    Not a fan of his? Most people loved The Muppets reboot (I did not see it).

    Don’t remember reading your review of it.

  15. Andrew on April 30, 2012 12:56 pm

    The only real problem the film has lies in being overlong. This thing needed a major trim in the editing bay; there’s too much non-essential footage here that very easily could have been left on the cutting room floor.

    I’m curious as to what you think is so inexplicable over Violet and Tom’s situation. Much about their relationship rings true, from Tom’s refusal to profess his dissatisfaction with life in Michigan without provocation to Violet’s quiet perpetuation of his suffering. She knows he’s not happy even though he won’t say so himself, and he’s far too proud to admit that he’s miserable in his work situation.

  16. Sam Fragoso on April 30, 2012 6:55 pm

    Probably because the film’s length emphasizes my moments of dissatisfaction. There’re scenes that “ring true” – but the plot contrivances can be spotted a mile away – and that’s always frustrating.

    But what I didn’t care for was the reality this film showed at times, but then had our two intelligent lead characters continuously act like idiots. I understand we all make mistakes, but to make them over and over again, it’s just not enjoyable to watch.

  17. Andrew on May 1, 2012 9:36 am

    I really think a lot of that would have been alleviated with some really judicious editing so as to not have too much time pass between those beats. They kind of get separated from each other just by virtue of so much unnecessary crap happening in between.

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