The Five-Year Engagement is a tale about the ups and downs that invariably come with maintaining a relationship over time. Though Tom and Violet have a particularly hard row to hoe, their onscreen presence manages to be likeable, witty, and really, really funny the first time through. The jokes don’t hold up quite as well in a repeat viewing, but despite this, Tom and Violet are such familiar characters and such winning people, it almost doesn’t matter.
When we first meet Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt), it’s the night of their engagement and Tom has a special plan laid out at the San Francisco restaurant where he works. The proposal doesn’t go as smoothly as expected, but Violet and Tom decide to get married, nonetheless. The bumpy opener, however, seems to foreshadow events to come.
First, Violet’s sister, Suzie (Alison Brie) gets pregnant after a one-night stand with Tom’s friend Alex (Chris Pratt) and decides to marry him. Obviously, Violet does the right thing and pushes back her own engagement so the couple can sign a marriage license before they have their kid. Then, Violet gets a position at a university in Michigan. Because they are a good team, Tom decides to leave his restaurant job and move across the country with his professor wife.
Each of these moves and repositionings changes the dynamics of Violet and Tom’s relationship. It’s fascinating to watch the two brave the rough pavement, as Tom reconsiders whether he made the right decision and readjusts to working in a sandwich shop, and as Violet finds herself on uncertain footing at the university and in flirtatious territory with her mentor, Winton (Rhys Ifans). The problems that arise seem natural and real, but the real credit to writers Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel is their ability to infuse humor in situations without going over-the-top (the exception being a scene where Tom and Violet serve foraged vegetables on dishes made from the body of a dead deer).
Five years is a long period of time for a comedy to tackle, and it stands to reason the highlight reel of the couple’s relationship would need to be pieced together carefully to tell the story properly. While I was entranced enough with the plot, the characters, and the jokes during The Five-Year Engagement’s theatrical release, the jokes and premise lose a little of their luster upon second viewing. With a run-time of 124 minutes, the movie is really long, and that becomes far more apparent when you already know what’s coming.
Still, Stoller and Segel do a brave thing here, tackling a relationship that has already passed its meet-cute moments and moved into the long-term realm. It’s difficult to find a balance between lighthearted and serious in a comedy focusing on a later phase of a relationship, and most of the time, The Five-Year Engagement hits the right notes. It may not always be rainbows and lovemaking, but at least it always feels genuine, and that’s more than romantic comedy viewers get most of the time.
One of the most annoying things about the set is that it doesn’t ask you right away whether you would rather watch the theatrical version or the unrated version. Menu issues aside, there are quite a few extras with the disc.
Three “documentaries” are included with the set. The first is your standard “Making of” segment, but with added detail. It is split in to two parts, with the first part discussing scenes in San Francisco and the second part looking at Michigan. Some of the big moments in the film are looked at, including the famous bow scene from the trailer and the scene where Blunt and Brie speak in Sesame Street voices.
Next, “Gastrocule: The Making of” covers a plotline that never made it into the film. In the segment, Tom opens up a restaurant in Michigan that subsequently gets blown up by Tarquin. It’s pretty interesting to see what the guys can do when they get to use special effects. I was a little bummed at first because they didn’t show the scene in its entirety, but, this is rectified in the deleted scenes section. A second sequence called “Turkey” looks at a deleted scene where Posehn takes on the duties of manning a turkey puppet and getting the puppet to talk to Segel's character.
When the film was released, there was a lot of discussion about the extra footage shot for the film. Because of this, I expected a lot of deleted scenes. There are 12 deleted scenes present on the disc, which adds up to like 45 minutes of extra footage (that's a guesstimate), including plenty of awkward moments at Winton’s house. Each of the deleted scenes is a gem in its own right, but taken as a whole, it’s a bit much. Following the deleted scenes is a set of extended and alternate scenes that feature 18 lengthier moments than what we got in the movie. If you manage to truck through all of these with glee and motivation, I applaud you.
Rounding out the special features is the longest gag reel I’ve ever seen, a line-o-rama, and several small segments spotlighting even more gags that could potentially have made it into the film if it hadn’t been way over its run time.
As a whole, the disc, like the movie, features a lot of oversharing. The Five-Year Engagement is unlikely to be the type of film to encourage obsessive fandom, and while it is all of the extra footage was able to be used, the whole trek through the special features feels like those in charge of the set equated “more” with “better.” It’s hard to fault Lionsgate for producing an overloaded disc, but it’s a bit much.