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The Five-Year Engagement: A Food Movie in Disguise

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The Five-Year EngagementThe 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.

The Five-Year Engagement

Chris Pratt and Jason Segel: Foodies at Large | The Five-Year Engagement

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. 

On Twitter: #fiveyearengagementJudd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller, Jason Segel, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Mindy Kaling

Jane Boursaw is the founder and editor-in-chief of Reel Life With Jane. Her credits include hundreds of print and online publications, including The New York Times, People Magazine, Variety, Moviefone, TV Squad and more. Follow her on Twitter at @reellifejane.

Jane Boursaw has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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12 comments

  1. I did notice a lot of food in the commercials but thought it looked pretty funny. Still though, I think I’ll wait for the DVD

  2. Thanks for the shout out, Jane. Much appreciated. And thanks to your review here, I have a professional excuse to go see this film.

    I had to laugh though: Only in the movies would an up-and-coming SF chef decamp to Ann Arbor for a restaurant gig — even if Emily Blunt was the fiancee.

    • I know, right? It’s no wonder poor Jason Segel grew a beard, started shooting deer, and fell into an aimless pit of despair. This is, of course, nothing against my lovely snowy state, which as you know, I love. But when it comes to foodies? I think we can agree that the Bay Area has it over us. When we start getting some gourmet, organic food trucks around here, I might have to rethink that. Come on, Michigan! I know you can do it!

  3. I’ve seen mixed reviews of this film — thanks for your funny and staightforward take on it, Jane, and the reminder about Sarah Henry’s food writing, which I agree is always worth checking out.

    seriuosly, surely there are foodies (and food trucks) in Michigan?

    • Yeah, maybe, but certainly not to the level of the Bay Area. For example, we have a diverse group of events here in Traverse City during the summer, and the only food truck I know of is the Gibby’s Fries truck at the midway during the Cherry Festival. Oh, and an ice cream truck popped up over the past few years. There’s definitely room for growth!

  4. This is one that sounds better than it probably is…I think I’ll save it for a night when I want to curl up on my couch instead of go out to a theater.
    Sheryl recently posted…Could a Health Coach Be for You?My Profile

    • This would definitely be a good couch movie. And if the humor was a turn-off, you could always turn it off and go read a book instead of feeling like since you paid to sit in a theater, you’re compelled to sit through it. :-)

  5. Love the idea of food worked into the story line, but I have to admit, off-color humor is a turn off for me.
    Kris recently posted…100 Items to Disappear FirstMy Profile

    • It’s too bad these types of movies are rife with off-color humor. I mean, I guess that’s WHY they’re the movies they are – without the off-color humor, there probably wouldn’t be much of a storyline (and Judd Apatow would be out of a job). Still, not a fan here either.

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