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Friday, April 27th, 2012

Review Roundup: The Five-Year Engagement Engages But for Too Long

It was hard to get a sense in the trailer if Five-Year Engagement, the new film from Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, is going to be good. The pedigree is there both in front and behind the camera but the trailer included a pretty awful "I heard that black pianese are much bigger" joke. So what have the critics been saying?

Currently, it's at a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 59 on Metacritic, which is definitively in the pretty good range. (In comparison, Forgetting Sarah Marshall clocked in at 84% and 67 respectively.) What's interesting is most of the negative reviews and positive reviews are fairly the similar.

Generally, critics agree the script is very funny and aspires to do a bit more with the rom-com formula. As A.O. Scott of the New York Times put it, “The Five-Year Engagement dutifully hits the marks of its genre, but it is also about the unpredictability of life and the everyday challenges of love. The sensitivity and honesty with which it addresses those matters is a pleasant surprise." It's a point Michael Phillips echoes in his review for the Chicago Tribune, "As in last year's Bridesmaids, an authentic, dimensional human element animates the jokes and the characters with whom we spend a couple of highly satisfying hours." Even the less positive reviews agree the film is funny, especially its awesome supporting cast (which includes Kevin Hart, Chris Pratt, Brian Posehn, Chris Parnell, Mindy Kaling, and more) and double especially the British accented Alison Brie, who Scott says her " high-octane goofiness…pretty much steals the whole movie"

The film's major problem is pretty much unanimously agreed upon. Simply, the movie is too damn long. As Colin Covert of the Dallas Star Tribune put it: "The Five-Year Engagement continues past gratification to overindulgence. It's a very good movie. If a tough editor trimmed it from 124 minutes to 90, it would be wonderful." 124 minutes is A LOT of minutes for a romantic comedy, even an ambitious one. For example, Annie Hall and Manhattan both hover around 95 minutes. Even Allen's more expansive films, like Husbands and Wives and Hannah and Her Sisters, are only ten minutes longer than that. Some argue this bloat is the result of a desire to be more than just another rom-com. Betsy Sharkey of the LA Times: "There are so many detours taken by director Nicholas Stoller and co-writer Segel in trying to twist the typical rom-com tropes, they derail the movie as often as the wedding plans, shortchanging the smart, special comedy Engagement had the potential to be."

No one is saying the film lacks many interesting moments; it's just a matter of how many the given person can stand.

What do you think? Are you going to see it?

  • Katrina Hall@twitter

    I'm definitely going to see it! If only because I'm hoping it will let me deal with some of my anxieties of planning a wedding. And there is no way I could be upset about having an extra 34 minutes of Jason Segel than a movie should be giving me.

  • MattP

    Peonies, not pianese.

  • brista

    I thought it was good and actually I didn't think it was too long! I love Jason Segal.