Friday, April 27, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: The Five-Year Engagement

This review for the movie "The Five-Year Engagement" was written by guest blogger Liz Parker

The Five-Year Engagement filmed in Ann Arbor last summer, and since then I have been patiently waiting for it to arrive in theaters. A few of my friends saw Jason Segel at bars and restaurants around town, while Emily Blunt, along with costars Alison Brie and Chris Pratt, was spotted with her husband John Krasinski at Cafe Felix. The movie itself ended up being a little messy, and way too long, but overall it was cute and is worth seeing at a matinee. As a former resident, it was especially nice to see Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan on the big screen.

Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) meets Tom Solomon (Jason Segel, The Muppets) at a New Year's Eve party in San Francisco, and a year later he proposes to her on the rooftop patio of the restaurant where he works. They start to plan the wedding, but soon something unexpected happens: Violet, who had been waiting for an offer from UC-Berkeley, gets an offer from the University of Michigan instead. Tom knows it's an amazing opportunity for her, so he agrees to move with her to Michigan, since her program is only two years long.

Needless to say, the cold winters of Michigan are a far cry from the temperate climate of San Francisco, and although Violet is thriving in her program at U of M, Tom hates living in Michigan. He tries to find a job as a chef but most places are not hiring, and so instead he takes a job making sandwiches at Zingerman's (a real - and delicious - restaurant in Ann Arbor!). Just when they are starting to re-plan the wedding, Violet's funding gets extended, which means another few more years in Michigan. Tom tries to adapt to Michigan customs - including a few funny scenes with his friend Bill (Chris Parnell, Answer This!) teaching him how to hunt - but misses being a chef, and California. Tom and Violet must decide if they should stay together (and in Michigan), even though Tom is miserable there, or if they should call off the wedding for good.

This movie could have benefited from a 1:45 runtime rather than 2 hours plus, but some of the scenes in it are truly hilarious, and so it's hard to just dismiss the film altogether. There's a scene near the end where Violet and her sister, Suzie (Alison Brie, TV's Community), are talking in Elmo and Cookie Monster voices, since one of Suzie's children asked them to, that is one of the best in the movie. Segel brings some laughs as Violet's fiance, too, and Chris Pratt (What's Your Number?) has a good role as one of Segel's friends and coworkers, who Suzie later ends up marrying. Mindy Kaling (TV's The Office) has a small but memorable part as one of Violet's coworkers/fellow students, as well, and Rhys Ifans (Anonymous) as one of Violet's professors.

Maybe see this movie. I was never bored during it, even with its long runtime, but don't expect every scene to bring funny moments. Overall, however, the film was more "realistic" than I thought it would be, even for a rom-com, and Violet and Tom must jump through more than one hurdle in order to actually, finally, get married. Audiences familiar with Ann Arbor will get a kick out of seeing it on the big screen, though I have to say that I was surprised by how much the movie makes Michigan seem like the worst place ever to live (as well as making us all seem like "country bumpkins"); I know that usually any projects that film in the state must meet some criteria for being pro-Michigan.

The Five-Year Engagement is in theaters today, April 27th, and is rated R with a runtime of 124 minutes. 3 stars out of 5.

*Author's note: I saw a screening of this film on April 4th. This may or may not be the final version of the movie.


Liz Parker is a 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan. She currently works as an Assistant Medical Editor for a pathology website. Visit her at her movie blog Yes/No Films
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