Segel has a knack for writing characters who feel real and empathetic - he often plays likeable characters with a propensity for nudity, and it’s this lack of shame that makes him such an endearing leading man. For this latest flick, he’s also written a romantic comedy that somehow manages to rewrite the classic tropes of the genre.
‘The Five Year Engagement’ opens with Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) proposing to his girlfriend of one year Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt). Everything is going swimmingly for Tom – he’s head chef at a top shelf restaurant where he works with his best friend Alex (Chris Pratt) and now has a beautiful fiancé on his arm. However, when Violet receives an offer to study psychology at a university in Michigan, he readily agrees to quit his job and make the move with her for the next couple of years.
What follows are the normal trials and tribulations of being in a couple and juggling messy life decisions like work, moving to a new city and planning a wedding. There’s never any doubt that these people love each other deeply, but it is interesting to see how compromise and career choices can impact on a relationship.
Segel has a talent for building films with an incredible and well-written cast of supporting roles. Rhys Ifans is charming and compelling as Violet’s boss and potential romantic foil. Other stand-outs are ‘Community’ and ‘Mad Men’ star Alison Brie, who plays Violet’s sister Suzie, and Vaneetha, played by Mindy Kaling from the US version of ‘The Office’ who Violet works with. Chris Pratt, who some people might know from ‘Parks and Recreation,’ is also wonderful - taking actors known for television comedy and elevating them to the big screen is a smart move, as they get the comedic beats right and still know when to hold back.
Look out Aussie actor Jackie Weaver in her first Hollywood role since her Oscar nomination – it’s a blink and you’ll miss it performance.
‘The Five Year Engagement’ is a shade too long and dragged a little in the middle, but overall the flick is a resounding success, and central to that success are the performances of the leading couple. As mentioned, Segel can easily juggle pathos and humour, while Blunt is charmingly funny and sympathetic. Hopefully this role leads to her doing more comedy work, as she definitely has a flair for it.
Like all romantic comedies, you can usually see where the story will end, but the charm of this film is in the journey to the altar and beyond.
Reviewed by Miranda Boyce
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