It has been far too long since I last watched a rom-com, so when The Five-Year Engagement appeared on Prime, with Jason Segel and Emily Blunt on the poster, I figured I'd give the trailer a go. Discovering that it also starred Alison Brie, Rhys Ifans and Chris Pratt, some all-time favourites, plus had the creative minds behind Bridesmaids teaming up with Judd Apatow, made it an instant sale.
Now I imagine you're expecting me to say that, despite all of the above, The Five-Year Engagement was a total trainwreck. Well... it wasn't. It has some clunky moments but I haven't laughed uncontrollably so frequently in a long time. So that takes part of the "com", but what of the "rom"? That wasn't half bad either. Blunt and Segel make a compelling couple and, as with most of Apatow's work, the focus is not so much on the trope-y 'two people meet, fall for each other and have some laughs along the way' but rather the real-world issues that couples can run into. In the spotlight this time are the strains and stresses that can appear when balancing two sets of career aspirations, as ever portrayed both clearly and meaningfully.
The plot isn't too much to write home about, but then again this is a rom-com. We're not here for plot, we're here for some vague moral story wrapped in laughter and fuzzy feelings, and in that sense The Five-Year Engagement delivers. The characters are just deep enough, with the core couple feeling engaging and realistic whilst most side characters are closer to stereotypes than actual human beings (a standard and acceptable trope of the genre). Crucially though, these stereotypes work well together and, in particular, the juxtaposition between Brie/Pratt and Blunt/Segel is done nicely. Plus, frankly, the film is worth your time just for Pratt's glorious wedding song; rarely do you see an actor going for the combination of terrified, honoured, arrogant, sincere and romantic (all at once) but I'm not sure it will ever be done better than during this scene.
After finishing the film I wondered how I'd missed such a fun flick, only to look it up on IMDB to discover it was both quite old and fairly poorly received. Honestly, I can't understand that at all. It won't be considered a classic, but I'd happily recommend it as a light-hearted, frequently hilarious watch to escape with for an evening.