Fail­ure to en­gage

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies 5 - LEIGH PAATSCH Now show­ing Vil­lage Cine­mas

THAT’S not just a ti­tle we have here. It’s a di­rect chal­lenge to the viewer. Are you in for the long haul?

If not, The Five- Year En­gage­ment will lag like 10 years of drawn- out di­vorce pro­ceed­ings.

Ur­gency, en­ergy and snappy pac­ing, all traits a full- strength ro­man­tic com­edy re­quires to land on the top shelf, go miss­ing for long pe­ri­ods in this rest­less, yet cu­ri­ously list­less af­fair.

While fir­ing semi- af­fec­tion­ate home­truth zingers at each other from close range, stars Ja­son Segel ( How I Met Your Mother) and Emily Blunt ( The Devil Wears

Prada) are about as ap­peal­ing as any rom­com pair­ing seems to get in 2012. But should the nudge ’ n’ nig­gle cease, The Five- Year En­gage­ment soon be­comes a drag for the ages.

The first act sets up ev­ery­thing just nicely. Slob­bish sous chef Tom ( Segel) and sen­si­ble psych stu­dent Vi­o­let ( Blunt) meet at a fancy dress party.

They are soon mak­ing plans for a cool life to­gether in swingin’ San Fran­cisco.

Their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies just love the idea, to the point of get­ting pushy about it.

Some older folk ( though thank­fully not Australia’s own Jacki Weaver, who plays Vi­o­let’s mum) warn they do not wish to die wait­ing for the big day.

In a chain of gags linked through­out the picture, that wish will, in­deed, be granted to se­lected codgers of the clans.

We also meet Tom and Vi­o­let’s col­lec­tion of wacky ac­quain­tances, most of whom bring the funny when called upon.

About 30 min­utes in, you could not pos­si­bly sus­pect an ini­tial steady flow of laughs would soon slow to a trickle.

But that is ex­actly what hap­pens once the script ( co- penned by Segel and di­rec­tor Ni­cholas Stoller) starts con­spir­ing to de­lay the wed­ding day.

Vi­o­let lands a pres­tige study gig in the drab, cold state of Michi­gan. Tom sac­ri­fices a promis­ing ca­reer to fol­low her there.

What fol­lows is a slog­ging mid- sec­tion of the picture de­voted to Tom sup­press­ing and then re­leas­ing all pent- up re­sent­ment of his fi­ance.

Try as the writ­ers might, at one point, Tom grows a fright­en­ing beard, there’s only in­ter­mit­tent amuse­ment in the off­ing.

The lev­ity im­proves no­tice­ably when it fi­nally dawns on the film­mak­ers that their 125- minute project ( at least 30 min­utes too long for the ma­te­rial) had bet­ter wrap things up. By then, it’s a case of too lit­tle, too late. This pro­duc­tion as a whole is by no means a bust but it should have been a whole lot bet­ter, es­pe­cially given the qual­ity of per­son­nel in­volved, in­clud­ing om­nipresent com­edy guru Judd ‘‘ Knocked Up’’ Apa­tow as pro­ducer.

LONG HAUL: Emily Blunt and Ja­son Segel in a scene from the rom- com The Five- Year En­gage­ment.

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