Tom (Segel) and Violet (Blunt) are the perfect couple. So when Tom proposes on New Year’s Eve, everything looks set for a fairy-tale wedding and happy-ever-after. Things go awry, however, when Violet’s academic career, and life in general, conspire to get in the way.
The poster come-on “From the producer of...” is usually a pretty useless indicator of what to expect from a movie. There are exceptions, of course. When the tagline reads, “From the producer of Bridesmaids...” — said producer being Judd Apatow — you’d be safe to assume an agreeable blend of adult-orientated raunch and heartwarming human emotion was on the cards. And that is very much the case with The Five-Year Engagement.
Appropriating its high-concept premise from the old adage about the path of true love and its less than silky surface, Engagement follows the fortunes of Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) as they embark on an exceptionally rocky road to the altar. Kicking off with a fantastically romantic proposal scene, it appears to be heading into fairly well-charted waters, promising a string of hilarious mishaps that prevents Tom, an aspiring chef, and Violet, a psychology major, from tying the knot. But the mood shifts when Violet lands an internship at a rust-belt university and Tom’s career and their wedding plans are put on hold while they relocate to the snowy wilds of Michigan. What follows plays less like a rapid-fire comedy of errors than it does a rom-com re-imagining of The Way We Were.
None of the hurdles Tom and Violet encounter are trite or engineered for laughs — no-one gets stranded at the airport, the limo doesn’t crash, the church doesn’t burn down. They are all the result of two people whose lives take on different trajectories and who just can’t seem to get it together. It’s consistently funny, often laugh-out-loud so, but as Tom and Violet constantly thwart their chances of happiness it is also heart-wrenching and real, and the inevitable break-up scene genuinely moving.
Another solid hit from Planet Apatow — charming, funny and remarkably in tune with real life.