THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT
Studio: Universal/Relativity Media/Apatow/Stiller Global Solutions
Length: 2 hrs 5 mins (Theatrical Version), 2 hrs 12 mins (Unrated Version)
Genre: Comedy/Romance/Relationships/Judd Apatow
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
BD Resolution and Codec: 1080p, (AVC @ 22 mbps)
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.0 mbps), Spanish DTS 5.1, French DTS 5.1, English DVS 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Film Rating: R, Unrated (Sexual Content and Language Throughout)
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie
Written by: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
Film Rating: 2 ½/5
The Five-Engagement is quite a long shaggy dog story of a movie, but it does have several redeeming moments in it. In its simplest terms, the movie tells the story of the relationship of Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt), a happy couple who get engaged but can’t seem to find the time or nerve to actually get married. The movie starts the couple in San Francisco where Tom is a successful chef with a promising career. But within the first fifteen minutes of the movie, Violet has received an acceptance letter to join a psychology program at the University of Michigan – which requires the couple to move there and postpone the nuptials. Things unravel from there, as literally years go by. As a counterpoint, the movie shows the evolving relationship of Best Man Alex (Chris Pratt) and Maid of Honor Suzie (Alison Brie, playing Blunt’s sister), who quickly demonstrate they have a more stable long-term situation than the leads. There really isn’t that much more to the movie than that – which would be fine if the movie came in around 90 minutes or so. But this movie runs over two hours, which stretches the premise all the way to the breaking point and beyond.
MANY SPOILERS: The thing is, the movie is but the latest example of the usual Apatow style of story construction. Scenes are played out in every possible improvisatory manner so that they run on much longer than a viewer’s patience can usually handle. One early example is the engagement party in which everyone gets to make congratulatory comments, in a similar manner to the agonizing sequence in last year’s Bridesmaids. The problem isn’t that the scene doesn’t have funny material. It’s that the filmmakers don’t seem to realize which is the funny stuff, and which is the stuff that just rambles on. That said, I have to admit that at almost every point at which I was ready to give up on the movie, a really funny scene or a really strong dramatic idea would pop up to keep me engaged. After twenty minutes of watching the couple ramble through the opening act (and watching the hook-up of Alex and Suzie), a viewer will have had about enough of the scenes staying on past their welcome. And then the action shifts to Michigan where we see Tom haplessly trying to interview for a chef position at every local restaurant in a sequence that may be the most laugh-out-loud brutally funny thing in the movie. (You don’t know humiliation until you have an entire kitchen of chefs laughing and pointing at you…) The movie then pads through what really feels like about years of Tom and Violet living in Michigan while Alex and Susie marry and produce two kids. But once again, as the viewer’s patience is finally hitting its limits, the movie then takes the bold step of breaking the couple up and accelerating the time ahead nearly another year. And once the viewer has adapted to the new framework, the movie then presents its most effective scene – a simple conversation between Violet and Suzie that sums up the themes of the story in a manner that’s both appropriate and hysterical. If you’re a fan of this movie-making style, The Five-Year Engagement will be an easily entertaining movie. If you’re not a fan, the movie can be excruciating. But it does have those rewards scattered within it, like bread crumbs on a trail…
There are two versions of the movie on both the DVD and Blu-ray. The theatrical version is already long enough at two hours and five minutes, and the unrated version stretches on another seven minutes.
The Five-Year Engagement was released on Blu-ray and standard definition last week. The Blu-ray has the movie in high definition picture and sound, along with a fairly generous armload of extras. The Blu-ray package includes the DVD, which holds a few of the same extras. An insert provides the code for obtaining Ultraviolet or Digital copies of the movie. The usual pocket BLU and BD-Live functionality is also included.
VIDEO QUALITY 4 ½/5
The Five-Year Engagement is presented in a 1080p AVC 1.85:1 transfer that does a good job of translating the HD footage shot from Arri Alexa cameras to a satisfying image on a large HDTV. Flesh tones are accurate, and a variety of environments and textures are presented in high detail. The limited amount of greenscreen CGI work is mostly unnoticeable, unless you’re familiar with the techniques and can pick out those moments.
AUDIO QUALITY 4 ½/5
The Five-Year Engagement is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that isn’t really asked to do a lot other than present the dialogue and music in a satisfying manner. And it definitely succeeds in that, along with a bit of atmospheric sound here and there. But this isn’t the kind of movie that needs an immersive mix anyway. In addition to the high definition audio, there are Spanish and French DTS 5.1 tracks, and an English DVS track..
SPECIAL FEATURES 3 ½/5
The Blu-ray presentation of The Five-Year Engagement comes with a fair amount of special features, mostly exclusive to the Blu-ray edition, and most of which consist of another 90 minutes of material deleted from the theatrical version of the movie. The Blu-ray also includes the usual BD-Live, pocket BLU and bookmarking functionality. The Blu-ray packaging includes the DVD as well as an insert with the code for obtaining a digital or Ultraviolet copy of the movie.
My Scenes – The usual Blu-ray bookmarking feature is available here, allowing the viewer to set their own bookmarks throughout the film.
BD Live – The usual Blu-ray online functionality is present, allowing the viewer to access trailers and other bonus content through the Universal portal.
pocket BLU – The Universal application for smartphones and tablets is present here, allowing the viewer to use their device as
an effective remote, and to access some of the bonus content through that device. A digital copy of the movie can be downloaded via this app. Several of the featurettes can be accessed independently via pocket BLU, if you wish to view them on your tablet or smartphone rather than on the television screen.
Feature Commentary with Writer/Director Nicholas Stoller, Producer Rodney Rothman, Writer/Actor Jason Segel, and Actors Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt and (by speaker phone) Alison Brie (AVAILABLE ON BOTH VERSIONS, AND BOTH DVD & BLU-RAY) – This scene-specific group commentary is a breezy affair, full of cross-talk and giggling, as well as an attempt to include Alison Brie over a speaker phone. But if you listen carefully, you’ll get some good information about the production, including several scenes that were either shot in Michigan to stand in for California, or were done completely during reshoots. (My second favorite sequence in the movie – Tom’s kitchen interviews – was actually all done in a single restaurant kitchen location on a single day during reshoots.) There’s a great rueful moment as the filmmakers watch what is a lovely vista shot of San Francisco Bay behind the leads and director Nick Stoller notes that his CGI guys told him afterwards they could have done the whole thing on greenscreen in Michigan and saved the expense of finding that location. (Of course, that would have ruined the whole idea of the scene, which plays better in the real location – but still…)
The Making of The Five-Year Engagement (41:48 Total, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a two-part collection of director Nick Stoller’s video diaries during the making of the movie, tracking the production from the first day of shooting in a Michigan restaurant to the final night of shooting in San Francisco. The collection is broken into two parts, titled for the shoots in Michigan and California, but it can be viewed as a single mass by choosing the “Play All” function. There’s some good stuff here on the set, mostly being able to be a fly on the wall as scenes are improvised and played with on the fly. The diaries are, of course, intercut with interview material with all of the principals.
Gastrocule: The Making Of (5:07, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a video diary (intercut with interviews) that deals with a deleted sequence in which Tom uses Violet’s money to open a pretentious restaurant in the college town where they live in Michigan. If anything, the diary makes clear that a lot of time and energy was spent on an idea that was ultimately superfluous to the movie. It’s a funny idea, but in the end, it really doesn’t contribute anything substantial.
Turkey: The Making Of (5:01, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is another video diary (intercut with interviews) dealing with a deleted sequence. Here, the idea is part of the late-movie section where Tom has moved back to San Francisco to date a younger woman (played by Dakota Johnson, who really does look a lot like her parents). As part and parcel with Jason Segel’s love for puppetry, this sequence is designed to make use of a large moving and talking roast turkey. (The short version is that Tom has made the mistake of doing mushrooms on Thanksgiving with his girlfriend’s buddies and is now hallucinating the turkey’s actions…) Again, this is a funny idea but one that feels like it’s out of another movie entirely. Which makes its deletion from the movie easily understandable.
Deleted Scenes (44:54 Total, 1080p) (AVAILABLE IN FULL ON BLU-RAY AND GREATLY ABBREVIATED ON DVD) – This is a collection of 12 deleted scenes, which can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” function. The scenes include the above-referenced “Gastrocule” and “Turkey” sequences, along with a bunch of others that provide a little more story information and a lot of padding.
Extended and Alternate Scenes (45:41, 1080p) (AVAILABLE IN FULL ON BLU-RAY AND GREATLY ABBREVIATED ON DVD) – 19 alternate versions or extended versions of existing scenes in the movie are included here, mostly showing the unused approaches recorded as the filmmakers kept the cameras rolling for extended takes. A surprising ending move for Rhys Ifans’ character is shown here, which explains footage of him doing a karate chop in the video diaries.
Gag Reel (9:24, 480p, Anamorphic) (AVAILABLE IN FULL ON BLU-RAY AND GREATLY ABBREVIATED ON DVD) – The movie’s gag reel is presented, mostly showing a series of line flubs and onset fun, starting with Jason Segel being treated rather harshly by a large trained dog.
Line-O-Rama (8:38, 480p, Anamorphic) (AVAILABLE IN FULL ON BLU-RAY AND GREATLY ABBREVIATED ON DVD) – The usual Apatow special feature is included here. This distills the alternate scene version idea down to a series of ad-libbed alternates to many lines or moments in the movie.
Experiment-O-Rama (2:34, 480p, Anamorphic) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – The Line-O-Rama idea is specified here to various psychology experiment ideas ad-libbed by the cast playing Violet’s fellow students in Michigan.
Weird Winton (2:26, 480p, Anamorphic) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This is a collection of shots of Rhys Ifans doing generally strange things in and out of character on the set in Michigan.
Gonorrhea Trouble (4:57, 480p, Anamorphic) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a series of outtakes from a scene wherein Violet’s father (Jim Piddock) explains how his marriage fell apart with her mother. Interviews with the cast about the scene are also included, but the fun here is watching Piddock and Blunt being unable to get through more than two lines without breaking up.
Top Chef: Alex Eilhauer (4:11, 480p, Anamorphic) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is an abbreviated, gag version of the popular show, showing clips of Chris Pratt’s character interacting with real Top Chefs Emeril Lagasse, Padma Lakshmi and Tom Colicchio.
DVD (480p Copy of the movie, Dolby Digital 5.1 sound @ 448 kbps) – The DVD release of the movie is included in the package. The movie is presented in standard definition picture and sound (with English, French and Spanish DD 5.1 and the English DVS track). As I’ve noted, the special features are mostly presented in an abbreviated form here. Both versions of the movie are present here, as is the commentary track. The DVD also has the complete “Experiment-O-Rama” and “Weird Winton” footage collections. But of the other materials it includes, there are big cuts. The Gag Reel is 3:04, the “Line-O-Rama” is 4:11, there are only 9:59 of Extended/Alternate Scenes presented here, and only a single 36 second Deleted Scene.
Digital/Ultraviolet Copy – The packaging includes an insert with a code for getting a digital or Ultraviolet copy of the movie. The copy must be streamed or downloaded by April 30, 2015.
Subtitles are available for the film and the special features, in English, Spanish and French. A full chapter menu is available for the film.
IN THE END...
The Five-Year Engagement has its funny moments and its characters certainly earn their happy ending, but it may make you really feel all five of the years of its title before you get to the end. Fans of the Judd Apatow school of filmmaking will likely enjoy this, while more casual fans may find this too long by twenty minutes. Fans of the earlier Nick Stoller/Jason Segel movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall will probably enjoy this one. There are certainly a few hilarious moments sprinkled throughout, and usually they happen right at the point where the viewer is about to give up hope. The Blu-ray presentation provides good high definition picture and sound, and a brace of special features, mostly consisting of about 90 minutes of further material wisely removed from the movie.
September 15, 2012.
Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:
Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – set at ISF Night Mode
-set professionally calibrated by Dave Abrams of Avical, June 2012
Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver
Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player
PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)
5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)
2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)
Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer
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