Sean K. Cureton

Funny, Entertaining, Completely Forgettable

In Movie Reviews: 2012 on May 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Theatrical Poster

The Five-Year Engagement
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
2 out of 4 stars

The Five-Year Engagement marks the third collaborative effort between writer/director Nicholas Stoller and actor/writer Jason Segel. In 2008, Stoller and Segel released the brilliant romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which appealed to both male fans of cruder Judd Apatow produced fare as well as those who long for brutally honest love stories. Last year the duo provided a follow-up with their reboot of the Muppets franchise with The Muppets, which showed off Segel’s gentler side, and was one of the best Disney films in a long time. Now with the release of their third film, it seems as though the team that at first felt so original and heart-felt is struggling to find new territory to explore.

The Five-Year Engagement follows a fairly predictable plot, in which Segel and his co-star Emily Blunt play characters who become engaged and are forced to continually post-pone the date of their nuptials due to constraints placed by Blunt’s character’s graduate student studies at the University of Michigan, where she hopes to become a professor in the Social Psychology department. Inevitably, the couple’s relationship is strained, tested, falls apart, and is brought back together at the end, because this is after all a Romantic comedy in which Segel has to come away with the girl at the end of the film.

However, the predictability is not the main issue of the film, even though it is a minor flaw when compared to the originality of the script for Sarah Marshall. What’s more disappointing in this film is all of the jokes that go too far or just don’t work but are stretched out to uncomfortable lengths. In particular, there is a sequence somewhere in the middle of the film where Segel has a strange sexual encounter with a colleague who apparently has some kind of food fetish. Or when the very funny comedian Brian Posehn is consistently given shallow and unfunny lines to deliver, which confine his abilities as a comic performer and actor to that of being an obnoxious and loud alcoholic character which could have been so much more if Posehn had been given some more screen time. Overall, the film could have used a good amount of trimming, leaving in only the funniest bits and thereby shortening the tedious 124-minute length to something around 90 to 100 minutes.

In conclusion, Stoller and Segel’s The Five-Year Engagement is a let down after Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets. Stoller and Segel have offered up a film here that seems to struggle to find its rhythm in a sea of dead sketches and jokes that fall flat and drown out what could have been some funnier moments and characters. It’s certainly a funny film and at times it’s genuinely entertaining, but at the end of the 124 minutes that you will spend watching this film you will not have any trouble forgetting it.

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