With 2012’s summer Blockbuster season getting into full swing with the Amazing Spiderman and The Dark Knight Rises, this comedy starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel (who also co-wrote with his Muppets partner Nicholas Stoller) as a couple who stumble into an elopement delayed by a seemingly never ending string of mishaps, comes as a welcome breath of fresh “explosion free” air. What was most rewarding about the film was that it was actually far more complex than I had originally expected. Looking back, it may follow all the same patterns that most rom-coms follow these days, but somehow it felt very fresh and as if anything could happen at almost any turn (and for the large part, it actually does surprise you).
Segel, who appears to be the man of the moment, follows his riproaring success rebooting The Muppets with a surprisingly mature and at times very melancholy dramedy – or should that be Coma… Don’t get me wrong, The Five-Year Engagement is funny; not only does it have hilariously funny moments (including a scene in which Emily Blunt and her on-screen sister argue as Elmo and The Cookie Monster), but it’s also wonderfully witty throughout. The writers have cleverly realised that piling awkward comedy situations on top of each other and expecting us to laugh doesn’t work (cough, Adam Sandler, cough cough), it is all about establishing characters and then slowly introducing comic elements around a fully developed story, not just a “funny idea” stretched into a movie script.
We actually grow to feel sympathy for both of the main protagonists, no character is made out to be particularly worse than the other, but yet, like real people, they make proper mistakes and argue about real matters, not just movie misfortunes. It is these realities which make the film’s comedy and drama really have an impact. There is a section about a third of the way through the film in which the titular engagement may or may not end in nuptials, and I was genuinely hooked. It may not be perfect, some of the jokes fall a little flat and the deterioration of one character’s mental state seems a little too cartoony to really tickle me; but these are minor faults, they hardly destabilise the film.
Maybe it’s the writing or maybe it is Emily Blunt and Jason Segel who make the perfect on-screen couple which made this little rom-com stick out. I can’t really decide, but I know one thing for sure – I can’t recommend it enough.
The Five-Year Engagement is out now in Cinemas Everywhere.