Movie Review: The Five Year Engagement

The Five Year Engagement is a Nicholas Stoller directed romantic comedy starring Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. The film begins with Tom (Segel) proposing to his girlfriend of one year Violet (Blunt) and follows their live together as careers and ambitions put heed to their wedding plans.

This typical romantic comedy premise however is supplemented by factors that are becoming increasingly relevant but rarely written about for the big screen, in particular in comedy. The fact that it is Tom who is the one affected by the success of Violet as a social psychology PhD for example is a rather intriguing gender role reversal and one that is becoming more and more common in western society.

As the film continues Violet also becomes happier, whilst Tom becomes miserable as a consequence for making a sacrifice for his fiancé.  How exactly do you tell the person you want to be happy that you are not happy as a consequence of their happiness? How do you deal with a loss of your manhood?

And the way in which both tom and violets fears and imperfections are not shoved in your face again and again with a big red flashing sign like most romantic comedies is a nice change. Life rarely is that simple and it’s nice to see movies trying to reflect that. In each situation there is never exactly a “bad guy”; the actions that occur are usually consequences of life not through men/women being inherently stupid or evil.

This would appear to be another film touched by the golden hand of producer Judd Apatow known for recognised films such as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad and even the recent Bridesmaids. Judd Apatow has produced some of the best “laugh out loud” – for want of a better word – films of this decade and is one of the leaders in rejuvenating clever comedies which deal with serious issues. Films like this show that comedy can deal with serious issues in ways that go beyond easy laughs. There is no reason issues such as cancer (50/50) or even unplanned pregnancy (Knocked Up) can’t be laughed about if done tastefully. These films aren’t about laughing at the situation, they are about realising you are most likely no different from any of these characters and that’s no bad thing. Here it’s how to deal with the imperfection that is inherent in every relationship, and how we deal with this realisation.

Sure it drags in parts, and if you aren’t a fan of Jason Segel this won’t change your mind. There are also a few unusual jokes that are a bit out there, and the staple masturbation / boner jokes that American comedies can’t live without for some reason are ever present. That aside it’s a film you come out feeling a bit better that you aren’t weird enough to dress up as Princess Diana at a “make your own super hero” party or leave your crossbow on a kitchen table.  And that’s no bad thing at all.

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