As with most filmmakers and producers who drop into the mainstream consciousness, there comes a time where an audience grows tired of their cliches, plot conventions and hangups. With Judd Apatow, the gripes boil down to one big complaint – pacing. And like many of Apatow’s other productions, this issue is alive and well throughout Nicholas Stoller’s latest rom-com, The Five-Year Engagement.
Running over two hours (even longer in the extended cut), the film takes you on a lengthy journey through Stoller and Jason Segel’s potent narrative revolving around a grand-scale communication breakdown between boyfriend and girlfriend. And while some might enjoy the journey, others will find the humor stretched a bit too thin.
In the film, Segel plays Tom, an up-and-coming chef in San Francisco who proposes to his girlfriend, Violet (Emily Blunt). After Violet is offered a position in Michigan, the two decide to delay their nuptials and move. Tom abandons his career while Violet pursues hers, but one thing after another forces the two to question their relationship as their wedding grows further and further from sight.
It would seem Jason Segel loves breaking down the lines of communication between loved ones. It’s been a staple of pretty much any film he’s written, even The Muppets. And while he has treaded this ground before, The Five-Year Engagement does manage to find enough energy and originality to keep things lively. In fact, on some levels, this film represents a strong sense of maturity and growth in Segel’s writing as he delivers more realism and less raunch.
The film does, at times, languish in its sluggish pace, dragging the audience through a surprisingly moody middle act that takes you down a few dark roads. That said, in order to really bring the crux of the psychological side of the narrative to the surface, it’s sometimes necessary to take the audience to the darkest corners of a relationship. But for those seeking a laugh-a-minute riot, The Five-Year Engagement is likely to disappoint.
If you’re in the market for a film that challenges you, however, The Five-Year Engagement will be a delightful experience. The film is often very funny, with more than its fare share of laugh-out-loud moments. Director/co-writer Nicholas Stoller does a knockout job balancing the picture’s quirky sense of humor with the rigid drama the story must endure, all while giving his characters weight and purpose.
Jason Segel is absolutely terrific as usual, and Emily Blunt is put to good use, and not just played as the token love interest. The supporting cast, including Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart and Allison Brie, are top-notch, with nearly every single performer nabbing a scene-stealing moment. Sure, The Five-Year Engagement isn’t a comedy gold mine, but it’s a meaningful, honest (and sometimes brutal) look at relationships, told by two expert writers. If nothing else, the film is a terrific complement to other Apatow hits, as well as indies like Bachelorette, Friends with Kids and Take This Waltz (which stars Seth Rogen and Segel’s real-life girlfriend, Michelle Williams).
The Five-Year Engagement arrives courtesy of Universal Studio Home Entertainment as a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/UltraViolet combo pack. The film is presented in 1.85:1, encoded in 1080p/AVC, mixed in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.
There’s not really much to say about the presentation. While hardly earth-shaking on any level, the transfer is quite strong, with no noticeable compression flaws or distortions. Colors are balanced, flesh tones are spot-on, and the image is just slightly soft, but detailed. Audio is right on par with the transfer. While not remarkably aggressive, the track is perfectly balanced, providing plenty of atmosphere and nuance. Dialogue is clean. No crackles or distortions of any kind were noted.
Apatow productions rarely skimp on extras, and this release is no different. Not only do fans get two cuts of the film (the 125-minute theatrical cut and a 132-minute extended cut), but the film also includes a mostly solid commentary track (featuring Nicholas Stoller, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie and Rodney Rothman) and nearly three hours of additional bonus content, including dozens of BD-exclusive deleted scenes, featurettes and extended material.
You can expect nearly 90 minutes of deleted/extended scenes, in addition to the usual gag material and line-o-ramas – a token of Apatow releases. There are also five featurettes, many of which are also deleted scenes or gags in their own right. And lastly, there’s a terrific 45-minute making-of documentary that walks you through the production. While the extended material can get a little tiresome, there are plenty of fun goodies to keep you occupied, and smiling, for hours.
The Five-Year Engagement is not going to be everyone’s breed of romantic-comedy, but it’s a film well worth checking out, especially on Blu-ray. With hours of bonus features, two cuts of the film, and a knockout commentary track – not to mention a solid overall presentation – there’s plenty to love about this disc.
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