Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Running Time: 124 mins
The Five-Year Engagement is an American film about a couple who find their plans to finally marry consistently interrupted by circumstance, leaving their engagement to drag on for years.
While it certainly isn’t the world’s greatest romantic comedy, The Five-Year Engagement gleefully combines genre tropes with surprisingly heartfelt emotion, and alongside two hugely entertaining lead performances from Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, it proves a genuinely enjoyable watch throughout, and definitely one of the better Hollywood rom-coms of recent years.
The premise of a never-ending engagement is nothing new, and a number of films have poked fun at how so-called ‘bridezillas’ find themselves frustrated when their fiancés continue to put off their dream marriage. The Five-Year Engagement, however, subverts those typical roles well, and while it still relies a lot on typical rom-com clichés for its core story, its role reversals are what make it a surprisingly enjoyable watch from the start.
Now, the story itself does take a while to really pick up, and while you do have that slightly more original take on the rom-com formula, the opening act and a half here isn’t anything particularly exceptional, and can prove a little on the dull side if, like me, you’re a bit cynical about the never-ending stream of formulaic rom-coms.
However, that’s where the film’s performances and surprising emotion come into play. Although it doesn’t quite hit the heights when it comes to big laughs, Emily Blunt and Jason Segel are hugely entertaining to watch throughout, playing off one another with fantastic chemistry, as well as putting in individual performances that are full of energy and genuine depth, something that makes them both thoroughly endearing leads in a story that often leads viewers to exhaustion with the main characters.
So, while Blunt and Segel’s ups and downs provide some good entertainment, they also bring some genuine emotional drama into play throughout, going beyond the typically trivial relationship concerns of lesser romantic comedies, and getting to the crux of why each of them are individually struggling to find their way to marriage, making for far more interesting character intrigue than is normally the case.
Of course, as a Hollywood rom-com, lighter-hearted or more predictable humour is often not far away, but I was pleasantly surprised by the film’s commitment to giving you a genuine dramatic insight into how the pair work both as a couple and individuals, rather than leaning on tedious and generic tropes about love conquering all etc.
And in the end, while it still never really impresses as a great comedy, The Five-Year Engagement finishes up as a pleasantly romantic movie, with a good combination of emotional depth and easy-going genre tropes, as well as two great lead performances that work well with the story’s subversion of expectations, and that’s why I’m giving this film a 7.5 overall.