The 5 Year Engagement starts where most romantic comedies end: at the proposal. Usually you have two single people getting into awkward situations trying to figure each other out. It works because you are not sure if it is going to work out (actually, you pretty much always know it is going to work out). But you don’t have the investment level in their relationship, because they are just getting to know each other. No commitment has been made.
I think that is why I had real difficulties with this film. When I walked out of the theater, the first thing I said was, “That was the most depressing romantic comedy I have ever seen.” There are numerous laugh-out-loud moments, but they are all at the expense of one character or another.
Before I dive deeper into that thought, let me say what does work. Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt). They are a couple that I believed and they were very funny together. They both dive into their characters and the relationship and I believed their chemistry as well. Jason Segel has many different comedies behind him, but Emily Blunt stood toe to toe with him in every scene. I bought their relationship, and almost everything that happens in the story. There are very few romantic comedies that the previous sentence would apply to.
Second, Alex (Chris Pratt) and Suzie (Alison Brie). They play Segel’s brother and Blunt’s sister respectively. Every single scene that they are in had me rolling on the floor. I could have taken an entire movie of just them. In fact, my favorite scene from the entire film involved Blunt and Brie arguing with each other in the voices of Elmo and Cookie monster. They completely commit and I was tearing up from laughter.
Third is Rhys Ifans as Professor Winton Childs. He is Violet’s boss and the things that he says and does are amazing. First off, he is immensely awkward throughout the movie, but I completely bought him as a character. A psychology professor who loves Tae Kwon Do and is trying to work his psychological Jedi mind tricks to get women is amazing. Add to that the fact that the man can do parkour and you have just created the guy that I simultaneously want to hang out with next weekend while turning him into Chris Hansen.
What bothered me was that they had all of these amazing characters, excellent writing and good set ups and I still felt depressed for the entire run time. People who were happy in this movie were happy at the expense of others. Jason Segel is usually the happy-go-lucky guy, and he was in a state of depression for 90% of the run time. Getting back to my first point, I think most romantic comedies work because we learn about the dysfunction that gets to a (in our mind) great relationship. With The Five Year Engagement, we just watch a dysfunctional relationship.
With all of that written, I will state that my wife loved the film. Walking out of the theater, she was more excited by this film than most others we have seen this year. So it could be just me. But if I had the choice to see this film for the first time knowing what I now know, I would not see it.
Have you seen The Five Year Engagement? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.