Deciding to get engaged, happy couple Tom (Segel) and Violet (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…
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. In truth, 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. Boasting another 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. But in spite of such familiarity though, the problem isn’t that we seen it all before – it’s that we’ve seen it 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 sustain our interest (just), 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 Alison Brie’s sister which has to be spoken in the voices of Elmo and The Cookie Monster) feel a touch laboured. Jason Segel fans will enjoy the fact that he’s playing his relentlessly optimistic nice guy staple as per 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.
Insightful in places and boasting a perfect rom-com set-up, The Five-Year Engagement is likeable enough, but Judd Apatow’s comedy brand is starting to feel a little familiar and worn.