Saturday 23 June 2012

Review: The Five Year Engagement

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The Five Year Engagement poster

The Five Year Engagement
124 mins / Dir. Nicholas Stoller

Well, they say five years, but it feels like at least eight. The film's about an hour too long, and isn't funny, charming or (ironically) engaging enough to justify that runtime. Entire scenes go by with apparently nothing to contribute to the story and are of no comedic value. Many of these scenes also appear to feature "ad-libbed dialogue"; this is presumably to give the film a fresh, unplanned feel, but mainly results in Emily Blunt and Alison Brie sitting awkwardly, not knowing what the fuck to say to each other.

There are snort-out-loud moments, but no real laughs. The screenplay lurches from one clunkly by-the-numbers plot-point to the next with precious little warmth or feeling. In many respects, the only time it's worth watching are when Emily Blunt and Jason Segel are on-screen at the same time. But even by the inevitable whining/break-up section of the film, that's put to the test. There are some good, original ideas in there, but they're mashed into a mechanical lumbering NuRomCom™ and it's just ended up being a mess. Frankly, it's not good enough.

Produced by Judd Apatow, Directed by Nicholas Stoller, and co-written by Stoller and Jason Segel, this is the team that gave us Forgetting Sarah Marshall, one of my favourite comedies of all time, since it put the Com before the Rom.The Five Year Engagement features roughly none of the things that make Sarah Marshall so great; Main characters you can feel for and relate to, secondary characters who are consistently amusing and/or likeable, a sense of emotional consequence with the story, recurring gags which aren't spoon-fed to the audience… all missing in action.

Now, I'll admit that my review is coloured by the fact that I went to the 12:30 showing on Friday afternoon, and had planned other things to do after the movie. It only went on for 30 minutes longer than a 'regular' film, but the lack of humour really made it feel longer, and the extended running time meant that my plans for the day were well and truly fucked. I know what you're thinking: "Well, it's not the film-maker's fault if you don't check a running time before you go in!". But had the film been worth watching, I wouldn't have minded. The Five Year Engagement, combined with 25 minutes of ads and trailers aimed at people with a different chromosome configuration to myself, literally ended up being a waste of my time.

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are capable of (and have starred in) so much better, that it's embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as the way they kept shoehorning the fucking donut analogy into this film.


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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