Dueling reviews: The Five-Year Engagement disappoints

By Courtney Mills
On September 14, 2012


Judd Apatow produces yet another rom-com with The Five Year Engagement. Only this time, the com takes backseat to the nonstop drama that engulfs the two hour behemoth.

Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) and Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt) are a cheery young couple living in San Francisco. Tom is a successful chef, and Violet is waiting to hear if she is accepted to Berkley for post-doctorate research in psychology. They get engaged, but their wedding is put on the back burner when Violet is accepted into the University of Michigan for her post-doc work. Tom wants Violet to follow her dreams, so he quits his job and moves to Michigan with Violet. Violet is wrapped up in her research, while Tom cannot find work and settles for a job at a local sandwich joint. 

This becomes a source of contention; Violet is convinced that it's okay to be selfish about her career, while Tom is bitter about his new life and unimpressive job. Spoilers: the couple is put to the test when Violet's mentor, Winton Childs (Rhys Ifans), kisses her. Tom's subsequent retaliation is the coup de grâce, and their relationship ends. They spend time apart and date other people, but they eventually get back together and marry. 

The overarching message is apparent: "the one" doesn't exist, and no relationship is perfect. With that said, when a couple chooses to be together, they should strive to work through their problems. 

It's refreshing to see a rom-com that accurately portrays relationships and the realistic factors that can strain them (e.g. career goals). Although these qualities add depth, they aren't enough to save the film. It relies too much on the eccentric personalities of the characters rather than actual jokes. In addition, the awkward jokes feel forced rather than organic, and they drag out the skits until they are not amusing any longer (e.g. the Elmo and Cookie Monster scene). Altogether, it's good and bad qualities make it an average flick. 

A consequence of a film this average is that it's forgettable. The situations and jokes are hard to recall shortly after its viewing, and its poignancy does not make up for its flaws. It's also predictable, which is a shame for a film that illustrates realistic relationship problems. In the end, The Five Year Engagement is just your average rom-com. If you're going to see a movie in the MUB this weekend, opt out of The Five Year Engagement for The Cabin in the Woods.

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