A collaboration written by actor Jason Segel and the film's director Nicholas Stoller, The Five-Year Engagement aims to give the schmaltzy romantic comedy genre a good shake; it is probably better described as a reasonable rattle.
Segal and Stoller have worked together successfully on Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the script for The Muppets, and their approach this time has been to start where most rom-coms end - the happy ending engagement.
This is the story of Tom (Segel) and Violet (Blunt), a madly-in-love and recently engaged couple whose wedding plans are put on hold when Violet is offered a job in Michigan. Tom leaves his job as a successful chef in San Francisco to follow his fiancee but is unable to find a decent job; his response is typically manly, he goes hunting and more than a little feral.
When Violet is offered a two-year extension on her contract, their relationship becomes even more strained, and the wedding looks less and less likely to happen.
Segel and Blunt are cute together, and there's plenty of good material to riff on as their resentment builds and their expectations change, but they've toned down the comedy to keep things real. The compromise has produced a polite version of an irreverent wedding comedy - it has wacky characters and moments of outright crass hilarity but it's balanced, with some difficulty, with the more mature style of comedy.
Which isn't to say there aren't a few good laughs. Violet and her sister have an argument voiced in characters from Sesame Street (those Muppets again?), and the understated approach works when friends visit to find every utensil on the dinning room table is made out of dead animals.
The Five-Year Engagement is full of good ideas and it's sweet and relatable; but an understated delivery makes for understated comedy. It's not helped by promotion as "from the guys who brought you Bridesmaids", which puts a noose around its neck by creating expectations it just can't meet.
Cast: Chris Pratt, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Running time: 126 mins
Rating: M (sex scenes and offensive language)
Verdict: Better than your average rom-com, but lacking in big laughs
Check out the trailer for The Five-Year Engagement here: