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Film Review : The Five-Year Engagement

Apr 27, 2012 06:18PM ● By Justin Buettner

Tom and Violet fall in love and get engaged. Their plans change when Violet is offered a dream job in Michigan. Tom puts his career and their wedding plans on hold to move from San Francisco to be with Violet. While Violet prospers in Michigan, Tom struggles with the change of scenery and as the years pass the two find their relationship becoming strained. Will their love be strong enough to stay together and marry after their five year engagement?

I really wanted to like this movie. The trailers for The Five-Year Engagement were actually quite good. I liked the concept and I really like the actors in it. Not just the leads either as the movie has several supporting actors that I enjoy in other film and TV series. Couple that with a writer/director in Nicholas Stroller who has a solid if not spectacular resume including Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. On paper the movie should have at the very least been a light entertaining romantic comedy. Unfortunately it wasn’t.

To say that The Five-Year Engagement is a slow moving movie would be an understatement. Part of the problem is the pacing, which could not have been handled much worse, but the movie has no tone. It is not funny enough to be a comedy but doesn’t take itself serious enough to be a drama. The Five-Year Engagement loses focus a third of the way into the movie and becomes about depression and career paths instead of relationships and wedding planning. While Emily Blunt and Jason Segel are immensely likable actors, the characters of Violet and Tom are very boring. The movie relies far too much on the actors chemistry and doesn’t give either of the characters enough interesting things to do. In fact the main couple are upstaged at every turn by Violet’s younger sister Suzie who is married to Tom’s best friend Alex. It’s not a stretch to think a movie about Alex and Suzie would have been wildly more entertaining.

It’s strange to see a movie intended to be a comedy not even attempt to make jokes through the bulk of the film. There were several opportunities for big laughs but the movie was content to be boring instead. There were also many head scratching decisions in the movie that just came off weird and out of place. One example of this was to show grandparent funerals to show the passage of time. It felt like the filmmakers thought these scenes were funny and even played it up in the previews for the movie. When we came upon the forth funeral it was just overkill. The inability to know when to edit a scene was puzzling. They would let moments go on for way too long until it was flat out awkward. For example Alex singing at his wedding went on way too long and it sucked any comedy that may have been associated with the scene, but it also extended the running time of the movie well past the point of being effective.

The movie did have fleeting moments of effectiveness including a very funny scene where two adults try to hide an argument in front of kids by speaking in Sesame Street voices.  These inspired scenes were too few and to far apart to make the wait for them worth it. And for as long as the movie takes to get to the end, The Five-Year Engagement rushes its final five minutes in a forced and preposterous conclusion that had my eyes rolling and me looking for an exit quickly.

I know dramas mostly win the awards, but every year bad romantic comedies come out in dozens while a good romantic comedy gets released once every few years, showing just how hard it is to get these types of movies right. Despite all the talented people in front and behind the camera The Five-Year Engagement just doesn’t quite work. I guess every talented group of artists is bound to have a bad outing, hopefully they have better luck next time.

Films like The Five-Year Engagement : Going the Distance, The Proposal, and I love You, Man

Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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