Monday, 2 July 2012

The Five Year Engagement

"You ate the old doughnut"

Tom (Jason Segel) is a sous chef at a top end San Francisco restaurant but is forced to move to the mid west when his fiancĂ©e Violet (Emily Blunt) gets a post graduate position at the University of Michigan. This occurs shortly after the couple’s engagement and they decide to put their wedding on hold for a couple of years until they return to the West Coast. Their relationship is strained though when Tom fails to fit in or find a satisfying job while Violet’s career takes off and leaves Tom alone to ponder the career he left in San Francisco.

As soon as the film opens you are able to chart its plot pretty much to a tee but the journey to the finale is both funny and intelligent. The film is helped in no small way by two delightful characters played by two very watchable actors, Blunt and Segel. They appear to have great chemistry and Blunt in particular comes out of her shell and puts her comedic chops to great use.

This is the first rom-com that I’ve ever liked more than my girlfriend, who is a woman. She has all the girl parts and everything. She said it was too real and she wanted more of a fairytale. (And she doesn’t like Jason Segel). I think that the film is quite male friendly in that it isn’t overly romantic or schmaltzy and the man is never used in the typical rom-com ‘he’s great but I need to change him’ way. I thought that the script, penned by Segel and his Muppets co-writer Nicholas Stroller was witty and sharp. I laughed a lot at both the script and physical comedy and it mostly stayed away from being too broad (bar Segel’s mid-point breakdown).

There are some wonderfully written and acted side characters which include Tom’s best friend Alex and Violet’s sister Suzie. Alex, played by Chris Pratt is, well a bit of a prat. He’s a man child who fears commitment and is Tom’s confidant. Suzie, played by Mad Men’s Alison Brie is an emotional and insecure woman. Both actors do a fine job and Brie in particular nails the English accent, even when playing Elmo in a great scene with Blunt as The Cookie Monster. Other side characters are wackier and include Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling and Randall Park who provide comic relief as Violet’s co-workers and Chris Parnell and particularly Brian Posehn who Tom discovers in Michigan. The main cast is rounded off by Rhys Ifans who plays sleazy Prof. Winton. He even manages to get a Welsh joke in which pleased me being half-Welsh. The acting on the whole is good but no one will be winning any awards.

I had a couple of minor problems. One of which is that it is slightly too long. Even though I enjoyed it, 124 minutes is too long for a romantic comedy. The plot was also extremely predictable, but as I said previously I enjoyed it. Something else that bugged me was a couple of the accents. Violet’s parents beg her to get married in London despite them all having obvious Northern accents. I’m sure this sort of thing wouldn’t bother most people but I have a thing about accents and I’m sure an American audience would find it odd if a family from Boston was begging their daughter to get married in Charleston.

Overall The Five Year Engagement is far from perfect but as romantic comedies go, this was one of the most enjoyable in recent years. The characters are likeable, the script snappy and I laughed a lot.       


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