26 June 2012
THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT- Review
As with The Adjustment Bureau, the film hinges on her chemistry with a love interest- in this case, she's reteaming with Jason Segel, after the godawful Gulliver's Travels and a cameo in The Muppets. Segel and Blunt play Tom and Violet, a couple who get engaged after a blissful year of romance. Violet is less sure about marriage when she misses out on an academic post at the University of Berkeley, but gets a second chance when she's offered a similar job in Michigan. This means that the couple have to move away, just one obstacle on a road that turns out to be much longer than either of them had expected.
It just so happens that The Five-Year Engagement is a comedy produced by Judd Apatow, which comes with some of the same problems that have bothered me in other films from that stable. The process of allowing the actors to improvise around their characters and the script tends to wield mixed results, and almost always leads to films that run about 20 minutes too long in the second act. At the same time, what set this one apart from other Apatow films is the way in which it completely won me over from the first scene.
That's kind of where you see the improvised bits coming in. Although Segel co-wrote the script, Tom's spiralling madness and depression in the second act meanders in a way that I struggle to believe would pass muster on the page. His two friends in Michigan, played by Chris Parnell and Brian Posehn, are more funny than merely wacky, but they still feel like distractions from the winning central pairing. For the most part though, this is the type of indulgence you see in The 40 Year Old Virgin, which gives you a strong character and motivation to get behind first, and then meanders into ad-libbing, as opposed to the over-stacked structure of both Funny People and the hugely overrated Bridesmaids.
The last couple of times that director Nicholas Stoller and Segel have co-written something, they've been fortunate enough to pull together a mix of the Apatow troupe, some of whom have been around since Freaks & Geeks, and actors who are blowing up and doing their own thing elsewhere. This one has great supporting turns from Jacki Weaver, who plays a very different mum from her unforgettable character in Animal Kingdom, and Rhys Ifans as Violet's lecherous boss. But it's Chris Pratt and Alison Brie who steal the show, as Tom's best mate and Violet's sister, who wind up revelling in familial bliss a lot faster than our heroes, to great comic effect throughout.
The Five-Year Engagement is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen The Five-Year Engagement, why not share your comments below? And let me know if you think there's a single funnier scene than when two of the funniest, most gorgeous comedy actresses around start doing Muppet voices. Cos you're wrong.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.