Review: The Five-Year Engagement
I’m incredibly surprised there isn’t more of a buzz surrounding this one. While it seems lately that everything is produced by Judd Apatow, Five-Year Engagement was written by Jason Segel and Nick Stoller and directed by the latter. The same team brought you Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets, two of the most beloved comedies in recent years. Maybe it got lost in the anticipation of the summer movie season or it wasn’t marketed properly? For whatever reason, the love is mysteriously absent, but it shouldn’t be completely discounted.
Looking at the aforementioned titles, Stoller and Segel have proven themselves as a filmmaking team. Very few would discredit Sarah Marshall or The Muppets, both of which aim to combine big laughs with swelling heart. They succeed to the point where such earnest emotions will be forever tied to Jason Segel. Five-Year Engagement wants to live amongst them and works in many ways as a companion piece to their first effort, but it also tries to be a straight-forward romantic comedy, to varying success.
On the surface, Five-Year has a lot of laughs. It’s not as screamingly funny as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but it can drop some coarse dialogue and an over-the-top gag with the best of them. The film breathes in its moments and lets its supporting cast run away with them. Chris Pratt and Alison Brie practically steal the movie. (Brie was perfectly cast, despite the faux British accent, her and Emily Blunt could be sisters). But beneath the surface is a nagging feeling that either Segel or Stoller or both were wronged in some way and they’re working through their issues on film. The material seems very personal, which is not a bad thing, but it brings a heaviness they may not have intended and certainly haven’t approached before.
The romantic comedy aspects of the film are inconsistent but well-intended. If you compare it to most (or any Katherine Heigl movie let’s say), it’s worlds better, but its path is predictable. There’s nothing wrong with being a romantic comedy and this happens to be a good one, but we should expect more from these guys. Thankfully, it’s easy to get invested in the characters and their relationship, to the point where the climactic set piece is clever and touching.
Apatow, Segel and Stoller have pretty much boiled this type of movie down to a science. It hits all the familiar beats you know and love, and manages to be both perfectly charming and entertaining. But maybe the fact that it couldn’t transcend like its predecessors is the reason the buzz just isn’t there.
Meh. I was disappointed. This movie was not as good as I’ve come to expect from Jason Segal. Save yourself some $ and just re-watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall.