It’s time to take a second look at the most recent Judd Apatow flick, The Five-Year Engagement. While I agree with B that the film had its strengths, it missed the mark on a few too many notes and was a disappointment for me and what I’ve come to expect and appreciate from Apatow. When you produce as many movies as he does, you are bound to have some flops. This was one of them.
Before I go into what is wrong with the movie, I’d like to highlight two great things about The Five Year Engagement and its strong cast.
1. Jason Segel
Jason Segel is funny, no matter what he is doing or saying. That fact alone kept me in the theater, as the rest of the slow-moving film pushed and prodded me to leave for the restroom. His writing style and delivery are some of the best in the business in comedy today. He is the saving grace for this sinfully long romantic dramedy.
Emily Blunt was a fresh breath of air. Although she has been in multiple semi-successful earlier films including The Devil Wears Prada and The Young Victoria, this is the first time that I have seen her on the big screen. Her interactions with her sister (the always wonderful and quirky Brie) and the U of M fellows. The aforementioned Sesame Street-esque scene featuring Brie and Blunt was both ridiculous and hysterical, as they discuss serious issues in front of children with they are each trying to impersonate the Cookie Monster. Hilarity ensues.
The first hour is enjoyable, funny and fast-paced. I assumed that it would continue to a strong finish, but what occurs after the first hour the story is disjointed, unbelievable and too long to enjoy. I’d have to agree with fellow reviewer/blogger Cam Smith when he wrote, “Bridesmaids and Knocked Up earned their two-hour-plus lengths; this picture does not.”
I could point out multiple scenes that are unnecessary or pointless, but instead I will speak to the major and overarching problems of the film.
First of all, the film’s unwarranted length was the main problem for the plot and the audience. The plot (which I will analyze later in this review) was all over the place, and part of this could be blamed on the engagement and the movie’s extensive time period. The film FELT like five years, pun intended.
The next problem was the speed or tempo of it all. The beginning was lightning quick with action and solid one-liners firing on all cylinders. Then the long drought of humor came and lagged on for the majority of the film, or so it felt. The couple become more and more estranged and the audience (especially me) lost touch with the characters. The differences were irreconcilable and the engagement everlasting. Then, everything came together in the last twenty minutes in spectacular fashion as we (and the characters) rushed into a snappy, high-speed wedding ceremony that none of us could have dreamed of nor thought of for these two procrastinating yet lovable characters.
Last, but certainly not least, I had a problem with the plot. It seemed like a lost puppy at times, wandering every which way but never quite finding its home. Certain scenes felt like they just didn’t fit with the rest of the movie and the entirety of the story line. When the plot (or puppy) did make it home, it was a completely different and ridiculous fully-grown dog. All the former pieces that were being thrown into the air and juggled by the characters and their problems were dropped. Yet somehow they bowed, the curtains came down and the credits rolled, with nearly everything (save the two lovebirds who ended up together) dropped carelessly onto the floor. While I was relieved the film was over, I did not feel any sort of completeness from the bravado and intensity of the grand finale.
The middle portion of a date movie (the meat and potatoes, if you will) can either make or break romantic comedies. The beginning and end are bound to be quite similar, but the middle is what stands in the way of a typical rom-com and a classic rom-com. Although this is hard to say, as Apatow and Segel are one of the best producer/actor teams, I was downright bored in the middle and wanted to go home to watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up or even the ridiculous Get Him to the Greek. Anything to remind myself of their former greatness.
The Five-Year Engagement: D+