THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Dukes
The film opens with Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) driving to a New Year’s Eve party. Tom is acting really suspicious and nervous, and Violet is trying to figure out what’s going on. Tom breaks down under questioning and admits that he was trying to propose to Violet. Violet is extremely excited. She tells Tom to keep going with the whole big thing he had planned, so he takes her to the restaurant where he works, where he has set up a romantic rooftop candlelit dinner.
Tom asks Violet if she remembers when they met. It was New Year’s Eve one year earlier, and it was a “dress as your own superhero” costume party, so Tom was dressed in a pink bunny suit and Violet was dressed as Princess Diana. Tom plays the song that was playing the moment they met, and he proposes with a vintage ruby ring.
Tom and Violet start planning the wedding. It is more difficult than they anticipated, because a lot of the venues are booked up for the next three years, or have strange requirements. They throw an engagement party at a pub / bed-and-breakfast called “The Drunken Pig” in the meantime, and we meet both Tom and Violet’s families. Everybody gives awkward toasts, and Tom’s best friend / work buddy Alex (Chris Pratt) plays a montage of Tom’s ex-girlfriend’s set to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire”. Alex tries to hit on Violet’s sister Suzie (Alison Brie) and Suzie shuts him down hard.
Tom and Violet stay the night at “The Drunken Pig” and they talk all night about what their future will be like, how Tom will open his own restaurant and Violet will become a psychology professor and they’ll have 25 kids. The next morning as they’re checking out, they see that Alex has stayed the night as well. Then they see Suzie trying to sneak past, and they realize that Alex and Suzie had sex, much to Suzie’s embarrassment.
Violet and Tom live in San Francisco, and Violet has been waiting to hear if she was accepted for a post-doctorate position at Berkley. Unfortunately, she did not get the position, and the only place she was accepted was the University of Michigan. Neither she nor Tom is excited to move to Michigan, but it’s only for two years, so Tom agrees to go. They will start planning the wedding again after the move.
This means Tom has to quit his job at the restaurant, and his boss says that’s too bad, because she was going to make Tom the head chef at her new restaurant “Clam Bar”. Tom is extremely disappointed to miss out on the opportunity, and is a little jealous that Alex will get the job instead.
Meanwhile, Suzie confesses to Violet that she’s pregnant as a result of her one-night-stand with Alex. Suzie and Alex plan a quickie wedding, and get married by the river amidst a flock of white doves. Tom and Violet try to be happy for them, but they’re a envious that Suzie and Alex are married while they’re still waiting.
Tom and Violet move to Michigan, and it’s a big adjustment. The weather is horrible, and worst of all, Tom can’t find a job in any of the nice restaurants. He ends up making sandwiches at a deli, and he’s embarrassed when he has to tell any of Violet’s academic friends what he does for a living.
Violet is settling in at the university. She works with three other grad students and an ultra-cool professor named Winton (Rhys Ifans). Winton takes an obvious shine to Violet and agrees to use her idea for an experiment where the emotional stability of adults is tested. The subjects are offered a plate of stale donuts, but told that fresh donuts will arrive in 20 minutes. If they eat the stale donuts instead of waiting for the fresh ones, it means they have impulse control and other emotional issues.
Tom hates it in Michigan, but Violet is doing really well. In fact, she is so successful that at the end of her two-year stay, the university offers to extend her position. This means she will be eligible for an actual professor job in a few more years. Violet is afraid to tell Tom and when she does, he is obviously upset. They get in a fight because he’s not happy for her. But they manage to talk through it, and Tom agrees to stay.
The longer Violet and Tom stay in Michigan, the more depressed Tom gets. He starts hanging out with one of the other “faculty husbands” Bill (Chris Parnell) and they go deer hunting and Tom grows a really hideous beard.
Alex and Suzie come to visit with their little daughter, and it’s obviously hard for Tom to see how successful Alex has become, and for Violet to see that Suzie is pregnant with her second child. Violet offers to babysit their daughter so the couple can have a date night. Everything is going well until Violet runs upstairs to grab something and Tom gets distracted watching a YouTube video. The little girl runs into the kitchen where Tom’s crossbow is sitting on the counter. She says, “I’m Pocahontas,” and shoots Violet in the leg. When Suzie and Alex return, Alex yells at Tom for falling apart and giving up on life.
Most disturbing to Violent, she comes home one day to find Tom eating a box of stale donuts, even though she told him she would be bringing back fresh ones.
Violet goes out with her fellow grad students and Winton, and gets extremely drunk. She tells Winton that Tom has been acting crazy, and she doesn’t know what to do anymore. Winton sees it as an invitation and kisses her. Violet pulls away after a moment, but she feels super guilty.
Violet runs to the deli where Tom is baking bagels and tells him that they should quit trying to make their wedding perfect and just get married already. Half their grandparents have died in the time they’ve been engaged. They put together an eclectic slap-dash wedding to take place in one week. They are happy doing the planning, but Violet still feels guilty about the kiss and confesses to Tom. Tom is really upset. Violet says, “But Winton kissed ME, it meant nothing,” and Tom says, “That’s a cop out, he wouldn’t have kissed you unless you did something to make him think that was an option.” They try to have make-up sex, but Tom fakes an orgasm and storms off.
At the rehearsal dinner, it’s obvious Tom is still upset with Violet. Winton has been un-invited to the wedding, but he shows up at the bar to apologize to Tom. Tom is furious and starts chasing after Winton to beat him up. Unfortunately for Tom, Winton takes Tae Kwon Do, so Tom gets throat chopped.
Tom ends up outside a bar where one of his sandwich-making co-workers is smashed drunk. She asks Tom if he wants to head over to the deli to grab a snack. Tom agrees. Once inside the deli, the co-worker hits Tom in the face with a handful of potato salad and tries to have hot nasty sex on top of the deli meats. Tom runs away through the snow, pants-less and crying.
Tom wakes up by the side of the highway with severe frostbite. When he comes to, he is in the hospital and his toe has been amputated. Violet is sitting by his bed. The co-worker brought Tom’s pants to the hospital, so Violet knows what he has been up to. She’s not angry; they’re both just sad. “We were so good together,” Violet says, “But I couldn’t make you happy.” Violet gives the ruby ring back to Tom.
Tom moves back to San Francisco and starts working at the Clam Bar under Alex. He begins dating Audrey, the young, blonde hostess. Meanwhile, in Michigan, Violet is dating Winton. Tom is doing well at Clam Bar and he’s back in the city he loves, and Violet continues to have success in the psychology department, but neither of them is particularly happy. Winton is something of a control freak, planning out Violet’s entire life, and Audrey is an immature sex-pot.
Violet’s birthday rolls around. Tom sends her an email with a link to a funny video involving one of her psych department co-workers. Violet gives Tom a call, and they have a nice, friendly conversation. But then Tom asks Violet at which point she knew their relationship wasn’t going to work. He expects her to say something like “When I got shot by a crossbow”, but instead Violet says, “When you ate the stale donut.” Tom is angry he says the donut experiment is bull crap. You never know if the fresh donuts are actually going to arrive, and the stale ones taste good! He hangs up the phone, pissed.
More time passes. Tom buys an ambulance and converts it into a gourmet taco truck, “9-1-Yum!” which is extremely successful. Violet is finally offered the professor position. She’s really happy, until one of the other grad students implies that she only got the job because she’s sleeping with Winton. Violet asks Winton if that’s true, and he admits that their relationship was definitely a factor in the decision. Then he makes some snotty comment that there are always new grad students to sleep with if Violet doesn’t like it. Violet is bummed out, and she sits down at her desk and eats an old, stale donut.
Violet complains about her broken love life to Suzie, and Suzie says Violet is stupid. Suzie and Alex were all wrong for each other, yet they worked at the relationship and now they’re really happy. Likewise, Tom has a brunch date with his parents in which they tell him that he has been a complete moron, that Violet is incredible and he should have done whatever it took to keep her. Tom’s mother says, “Your father and I weren’t 100% compatible, we weren’t even 60% compatible. But he’s the love of my life.”
Then Violet’s last grandma dies and she flies to England for the funeral. Tom breaks up with Audrey and flies to the funeral as well. Tom and Violet reunite and agree to spend a few weeks together in San Francisco before Violet’s fall semester begins in Michigan. They spend every day together, walking through the park and working in Tom’s taco truck and cuddling in bed. At the end of the three weeks Violet is supposed to fly back to Michigan, but Tom says, “This is stupid, I can drive my taco truck anywhere. I’ll come with you.” Violet tells Tom to pull over. She proposes to him again. Tom pulls out the ruby ring he was about to propose to Violet again as well.
Violet takes Tom to the park where she has a super fast wedding ready to go. They change into a dress and tux and get married right there with just their parents and Alex and Suzie. Everyone is super happy that the couple is together at last. As they drive away in a horse-drawn carriage, Alex and Suzie serenade them with a cheesy Spanish love song.