Jason Segel (The Muppets) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) are an engaged couple who can't quite make it to their wedding day. From the writer/director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and comedy super-producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Bridesmaids). Click here for movie times.
With films from the Judd Apatow house of ideas (like this one) now forming the standard by which all other studio character-comedies are judged, it can be easy to get complacent about how much they elevated the form. Gone are the days of contrived deceptions and insane misunderstandings driving the plots of such films, which are now much more concerned about the blander inconveniences of life and much more willing to present characters not defined by one particular trait.
The Five-Year Engagement is as close to a ‘typical’ Apatow-produced film as we’re likely to get, so there’s no shortage of endearingly faulted characters, authentic comedic moments and worldly observations about modern life. The title suggests a one-note source of conflict, but the film is much more a patient examination of the arc of a couple’s relationship than a zany, drawn-out trip to the altar. The problems they face are familiar and grounded, and are approached without solve-all solutions.
Emily Blunt is as radiant as ever and Jason Segel slips into his well-worn cinematic persona (well-meaning doofus) like an old pair of slippers. Mad Men’s Alison Brie does a passable English accent as Blunt’s sister, and Parks and Recreation’s Chris Pratt demonstrates how ready he is for his own comedic leading role.
Whilst some of the threads here feel a little irresolute, that mainly speaks to the authenticity of the story. It’s less of a laugh riot than Forgetting Sarah Marshall (the last film that paired Segel and director Nicholas Stoller) but makes up for it as a refreshingly grounded portrait of a contemporary relationship.