The Five-Year Engagement sounds like a relationship movie, right? It has all the elements of a relationship movie: two cute leads, a never-ending engagement, and the push-pull of the bride-to-be’s dream job on the other side of the country.
Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are a crazy-in-love couple who decide to get married exactly one year after meeting on New Year’s Eve. But their plans go awry when she gets offered a sweet job in the psychology department at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan (which is in my back yard — well, five hours south of me).
So they work it out and Tom, a rising chef in San Francisco, agrees to tag along and find a job in snowy Ann Arbor. It’s only for two years, right? It’s not forever. Except Violet is offered an extension, and the two end up staying there with nary a marriage in site. In fact, Tom goes completely Michigan on Violet and ends up hunting deer and growing huge amounts of facial hair. I’d be insulted except that’s a pretty accurate portrayal of a certain group of Michigan men.
The Five-Year Engagement is a Judd Apatow-produced movie, so there’s a fair amount of off-color humor and sex scenes. While there are a few laugh-out-loud moments — some you have to live in Michigan to get — the movie in parts almost seems like five years long. The pacing is off, a problem that could have been rectified if an unnecessary scene or two had been cut to move the story along better.
Still, there are some very funny moments and this: The Five-Year Engagement is really a food movie in disguise. Since Tom is a chef, we get scenes of him running a popular restaurant in San Francisco, finding a lower-profile job at Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor (a restaurant with which everyone in Michigan is familiar), and buying an old ambulance and turning it into a food truck business called 9-1-Yum in San Francisco.
I know there are tons of food trucks in San Francisco because my pal Sarah Henry write about them at Lettuce Eat Kale and Bay Area Bites. Hey, I may live in Michigan, but I have high-powered foodie friends everywhere.
Carrying the food-movie theme further, Tom’s brother (Chris Pratt) ends up with Tom’s dream job running a restaurant called the Clam Bar. There’s also a running joke about Violet’s psychology experiment whereby a group of people are offered stale doughnuts, but told if they wait 20 minutes, fresh doughnuts will be available. Apparently, if a person eats stale doughnuts, it means they’re lesser human beings or something. I guess I’d fall into that group, because if presented with stale doughnuts, I’d be the first one to grab a chocolate doughnut with sprinkles on it. I care not whether it’s stale or fresh. Anyway…
So you see, The Five-Year Engagement may look like a relationship movie on the surface, but on a deeper level, it’s a food movie. There’s even a Sesame Street reference when Violet and her sister Suzy (Alison Brie) start talking to each other (and then arguing) as the Cookie Monster and Elmo, for the enjoyment of Suzy’s toddlers. That’s one of the laugh-out-loud moments. And … cookies = food.
Could Judd Apatow be a secret foodie? Will he be turning out documentaries about the food industry or perhaps producing reality shows about rising chef stars? Stay tuned.
The Five-Year Engagement is rated R for sexual content and language throughout. It’s directed/written/produced by Nicholas Stoller, written by Jason Segel, and produced by Judd Apatow and Rodney Rothman through Apatow Productions.