Fans of Forgetting Sarah Marshall will love this new romantic comedy brought to us by the comedy trio of Jason Segel (writer & star), Nick Stoller (writer and director) and Judd Apatow (producer). Having worked with each other for years, their strengths excel in this funny, sweet and touching story of Violet and Tom.
We first met our leads driving to a New Year’s Eve party, not only wanting to celebrate New Year’s eve but also a year of being a couple. Present day intertwines with flashbacks of an alternate super hero party where our lovers meet and perfectly sets up the background story while staying very much in the current journey of the love birds. Tom’s plan to propose goes a little astray but Violet loves it and soon they are working towards planning their dream wedding.
Tom (played by Segel) is a top chef at one of San Francisco’s main restaurants. He is so good that he is hoping to one day own and run his own restaurant. Emily Blunt, keeping her natural British accent, plays Violet who is desperately waiting to see if she gets accepted onto a post-doctoral assignment in social psychology at Berkeley. They love each other and love their lives. However, when Violet gets accepted onto a similar programme but at the University of Michigan their worlds are somewhat turned upside down and their wedding takes a turn down river.
The core of The Five-Year Engagement looks at a relationship and questions ‘does it have to be perfect to be right?’ Tom and Violet move to Michigan to start a new life and, though Tom isn’t entirely happy about it, he does it because he loves her. However they then sit back and watch Violet’s sister Susie (Alison Brie) spend a drunken night with Tom’s best friend Alex (Chris Pratt), a night that results in a pregnancy and a quick marriage. All the life paths Tom and Violet imagined they would be walking down seem to get further away and yet the most irresponsible couple are growing up the fastest. Many twists and turns hit the couple’s road to the altar but we won’t reveal them here.
So many aspects give this film its strength and make it more appealing than most romantic comedies. For one, you can really relate to these characters. They are either you, friends you know or friends of friends you have heard about. True their luck is probably a little bit more rubbish than most, but that heightens the comedy. The writing is strong and the comedic moments on screen are gold. When watching you can tell that the people behind this film have known each other a long time, no line is wasted, no pause is not constructed without a plan and, better yet, they know improvisation brings out the best in some actors.
The casting is spot on. Jason Segel, a man who seems to be everywhere recently, is perfect at playing an average man, one you can identify with and doesn’t intimidate. He is lovable and great at playing these kinds of characters; it is a natural role for him which makes him all the more easy and enjoyable to watch. Emily Blunt is quickly becoming someone to appreciate in film. Here she is spot-on as Violet and the natural chemistry she shares with Segel is engaging to watch. It is also clear that they are really good friends outside of work and that is visible on screen. Smart, funny and beautiful (but in no way pretentious or annoying), Blunt is watchable again and again.
The supporting cast cannot go without a mention. Chris Pratt and Alison Brie as Alex and Susie are an unlikely couple but yet so similar. Together they bring some cringey moments but also laugh-out-loud opportunities and there is a wonderful wedding serenade to look out for. Rhys Ifans plays Winton, Violet’s professor at the university and his character’s story is interesting especially when paired with the rest of the people in Violet’s team at Michigan – Doug (Kevin Hart), Vaneetha (Mindy Kaling) and Ming (Randall Park). Collectively as an ensemble they are strong and quick-witted; if anything you are often wondering if all of their lines were improvisation.
The Five-Year Engagement is the perfect film for everyone as it has something that everyone will enjoy. One not to be missed.
Best scene: Cookie and Elmo.
Best performance: Jason Segel and Emily Blunt.
Best line: ‘I want the Circus of shows’.