TBT – Review: The Five-Year Engagement

It is Throwback Thursday and that means I am going to post a movie review of an older flick that I have either watched recently or that I have reviewed before. It can be a bad movie, a good movie; a documentary: any movie. If you have any Throwback Thursday requests, please let me know! This first Throwback Thursday is a movie that I quite liked, although I like it more when I think back to it, then when I just saw it, hihi: The Five-Year Engagement.

Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they talk about nothing else to their friends and life is beautiful. Until there is a horrible problem coming in between the two, full of cheating and deceit. Help! Thankfully everything can be worked out and happily the boy and girl hug each other. All is good. That is the recipe for any rom-com, but in The Five-Year Engagement the result is just a little bit different.

Actor Jason Segel has, just like in The Muppets, both the role of key character and writer. Together with Nicholas Stoller Jason Segel wrote the scenario. Nicholas Stoller directed films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and Get Him To The Greek (2010) and now The Five-Year Engagement, in which both The Adjustment Bureau-actress Emily Blunt as Parks and Recreation-actor Chris Pratt can be seen.

The name of the flick gives away a lot about the plot. At the start we see Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) ask for the hand in marriage of Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt), but after an enthusiastic YES the engagement takes way too much time, making the chances of an actual wedding happening slimmer by the day. Every time a grandpa or grandma dies, the family asks about when to expect the invitation. What they don’t know, is that the couple from San Francisco is struggling.

At first that is not entirely clear, cause during a party to celebrate the engagement the intention of getting married is definitely there. Chris Pratt, playing Tom’s colleague Alex Eilhauer, shows his best side. Eilhauer thinks it’s a great idea to make a song about all Toms exes, including a nice Powerpoint presentation. Violet is laughing about it, but Tom is getting awkward about it and asks his colleague to stop. The relation between him and his maladjusted friend is set out in a very funny way. As the movie continues you will see a whole range of new characters being attached to the key characters in the same way.

The difficulties between the couple are explained in a nice, laid back pace. Violet is a smart psychology PhD student and if she gets the chance to do her postdoctoral at the University of Michigan, she convinces her fiance Tom to move with her to make her dream a reality. Tom is a sous chef at a good restaurant, and he is on the brink of getting his own restaurant, but he decides to go with the woman he loves. His dream is put on hold, but Tom decides those two years should not be a problem for his cooking dreams.

Obviously this is not going to turn out as the couple expected. Living in a cold, quiet town is a too big change and again getting married is postponed. In Michigan there are a lot of nice people that help them get used to their new life, but even that has its downsides that make the wedding seem further away than ever before. Throughout the whole movie you will be confronted with these moments of doubts and again and again the wedding gets postponed, which has its power over the couple.
To make these awful moments of doubt extra tragic, the writers chose to look back at the first time that Tom saw Violet. Of course this happened at this very cheesy New Years party, where Tom was wearing a ridiculous outfit and Violet a very culturally responsible one. That first time they met keeps being repeated everytime a new person enters their life, which is cute because you hear the couple tell happily about this good old time of butterflies and a carefree life.
This little trick of flashbacks happens a little bit too often in The Five-Year Engagement. Especially because it is the same moment in their relationship every time, it gets too sappy and overly emotional swiftly. And the movie does not really need it, as Tom and Violet have a lot of fun, heart-warming moments together, even when things go bad. As a viewer you already know things are right between the two, and that makes those flashbacks more a disturbance than an addition.
But, this is not the most annoying thing, cause that would be the problems presented to us in this film. Though the couples in most romantic comedies have to deal with the most boring or weirdest issues, there is always a solution before the two hug and make-up with that ever so affirmative kiss (usually at an airport). In The Five-Year Engagement multiple problems are presented to us, that are way deeper and more realistic than we are used to in this genre, which is awesome, but there never is a satisfying solution. That is why it might feel like you have seen this movie for no reason, that it is useless, because it feels like there are a lot of loose ends.
Jason Segal is very convincing as Tom, which is not odd as he has written the part himself. Tom is more of an odd ball than the more complex Violet, which makes the movie a bit more attractive to a male audience. The movie is a great date movie by the way, because it is not too over the top romantic, there is no shopping, no constant sex talk. Tom dares to talk about his feelings, without losing his masculinity. That might satisfy a lot of boyfriends that are watching this movie with you on the couch (or just one boyfriend, if you are traditional 😉 ).
Emily Blunt is an amazing Violet, as she is very good as showing the emotional dilemma’s young women might cope with. If she finds out she might prolongue her study in Michigan, she comes home with a bottle of alcohol, waiting until her dear fiance comes home to bring him the news as tactical as possible. You see that her character had thought about what she was going to say. She wants to chose for herself as an independent, grown up woman, but yet she is insecure like a little girl.
It does not matter if there is constant fighting or love birds flying around; Tom and Violets conversations are cute, intelligent and often very funny. It makes them the amazing middle of the huge range of characters. All those extra characters are usually obstacles; but they are realistic, recognizable and convincing. But, those realistic obstacles do not get a good solution and many problems stay unsolved. Try to take those loose ends for granted and just enjoy this flick, cause The Five-Year Engagement is a nice movie that goes that extra mile to be more surprising than many other films in this genre.

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