At some point in his history, some woman absolutely crushed Jason Segel, the writer/star of The Five-Year Engagement and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Segel has chosen to exercise his demons in cinema form, much to the delight of American audiences. Engagement is a vulgar, profane romantic comedy about a protracted romance strained by relocation to the frozen north. Nowhere near as good as either Forgetting or last year’s Bridesmaids, this inconsistent flick hits more than it misses thanks entirely to its extraordinary supporting cast.
Emily Blunt stars alongside Segel as a graduate student who gets engaged to a chef in San Francisco after a whirlwind romance. But when she gets an appointment at Michigan, the couple uproots and keeps putting off their big day while growing farther apart.
Sound like the setting for a hilarious comedy? It’s not. The chemistry between Segel and Blunt never clicks and at no point did I root for these kids to make it work. Thankfully the movie’s supporting cast—anchored by Chris Pratt (Parks and Rec), Mindy Kaling (The Office) and comedian Brian Posehn—bring copious amounts of the funny. But be forewarned: This movie is extremely crude, likely setting a record for cinematic f-bombs.
A romantic comedy like Engagement needs to walk a careful line between believability and absurdity, but there is a notable lack of logic that makes some of the primary plot hard to swallow, a problem exacerbated by the unsympathetic lead characters. Many moments are stuffed into the movie because it was in the script rather than because it would serve the narrative, resulting in an inconsistent product. Thankfully the supporting cast—extraordinarily funny, the lot of them—rescue the flick from maudlin mediocrity.
The Five-Year Engagement illustrates the problem with having an insulated project: When the writers also serve as the director and star, they become married to the material and can lose objectivity and cease to be judicious editors. While the movie is on balance good and funny, its failings hold it back from becoming a classic.
Engagement is funny. Very funny. But when it’s just Segel and Blunt on screen, the movie becomes a predictable, boring, and rote romantic comedy that isn’t worthy of its wonderful cast. If you’re willing to suffer through the boring bits you will be rewarded with great gags that come not from the script by from improv by very funny people.
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