Home > Film & stuff > My Thoughts on ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ (*SPOILER ALERT… kinda)

My Thoughts on ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ (*SPOILER ALERT… kinda)

LACMA's program for 'The Five-Year Engagement'

Jason Segel is a funny man. I think Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of the standout comedies since the Apatow-style humor started to take hold after the release of The 40 Year Old Virgin. Segel stole every scene he was in throughout Knocked Up. He’s far more talented than that god-awful TV show he’s on, How I Met Your Mother (they must pay him a truck load). Because of his talent and likability, I expect that when he co-writes a romantic comedy with his writing partner/director Nicholas Stoller that it will exceed my expectations. The Five-Year Engagement (opening April 27th) does rise above most middle-of-the-road, brain dead romantic comedies out there… barely.

I went to see an early screening of The Five-Year Engagement at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The film is more comedic than romantic thanks to Segel’s and Stoller’s frequently hilarious screenplay. In the film, Segel plays a promising chef who follows the love of his life (played well by Emily Blunt) from San Francisco to the freezing hell of Michigan in order to support her dreams of becoming… something… a psychologist? Who cares, it doesn’t matter. Luckily, Blunt and Segel mix very well together in both their lighthearted and serious moments. With their chemistry, the film feels much less tiresome than it should to a reasonable person. Another shot in the arm for the picture is the multi-talented Alison Brie (from two of TV’s best shows: Mad Men and Community) who plays Blunt’s fertile British sister, and Chris Pratt (also from one of TV’s best: Parks & Recreation) as Segel’s dopey but lovable best friend. Hey, you can’t have a romcom without one! (chuckle chuckle chuckle)

They really are all fine actors and they manage to transcend the typical couples comedy by being truly funny, not cutesy or stupid. I laughed through almost the entire film, which had me convinced that I was seeing something out of the ordinary. By the end, in spite of all the laughs, I was let down. See, when a film is as finely written and the jokes land as well as they do in The Five-Year Engagement, it’s essentially making a promise that it will leave behind all the traps and clichés of a lesser film. Don’t be fooled by the first 90% of the movie–it’s not special. It manages to pull the rug out and leave you with the same falsely buoyant, manipulative, unrealistic, and unfair ending that almost all bad romantic comedies possess, and it’s just a shame. I thought Segel was better than the typical “happy ending” tripe, but apparently not.

Pompous ass Film critic Elvis Mitchell was on hand, as usual, at the screening to both intro the film and then interview Segel, the aforementioned director, Stoller, and one of the film’s producersHe seemed to praise the film for bucking convention and turning the genre on its head, and Segel and Stoller both patted themselves on the back for making a romcom that swims against the major studio current. I could barely believe my ears. I almost feel like I saw a different movie. The film does an excellent job for the majority of its running time by piling on the laughter, sure, but it caroms into Katherine Heigl/Kate Hudson territory. I would hardly call this move anti-studio or genre defying.

I probably sound more bitter than I actually am, but the post-film wrap up was almost too much to take (actually it was–I left when Elvis Mitchell faked like he was laughing so hard that he needed to stand up to get some air). If you’re looking for a romantic comedy that’s heavy on laughs while also hitting every expected beat, you’ll probably love this movie. I was just hoping for so much more. Though the Van Morrison soundtrack is sublime…

During Mitchell’s pandering ass kissing  interview, Segel semi-jokingly copped to being one of the “least masculine” men in Hollywood. Maybe that’s the problem–someone with a serious set of balls, man or woman, should have ended this film properly for the mature adults out there, not the teenage girls.

  1. Amanda Smith
    April 13, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    What? I love How I Met Your Mother. I like the review but I stopped reading halfway through to avoid the spoiler. I always enjoy your writing.

    • shortcutsla
      April 15, 2012 at 10:27 pm

      Oh thank you, that’s very kind. The spoiler is really not that spoiler-y, but Becky thought I should warn people just in case. If you see the movie, this article might be a good follow up.

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