"The Five-Year Engagement": Two Girls, One Review

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Love, Entertainment And News

Would you give up your career and move cross-country to be with the one you love?

Amanda Green and I went to a press screening of The Five-Year Engagement last night. Instead of writing a "real" review, we decided to let you in on our gal-to-gal dialogue about the movie. Here's approximately what we said as we took the escalator down from the movie theater, and walked down the street to get tea (yes, we're boring, we drink tea): 

Amanda: Was it just me or was The Five-Year Engagement a lot heavier than the trailer led us to believe? The trailer makes it seem really funny, with a lot of slapstick humor. But the movie was more... real than that. The two characters, Tom and Violet, get engaged and that sort of seems to be the end of their "honeymoon period." "Five-Year Engagement" Giveaway: Win Fun Prizes Or A Cash Card!

Natalie: Yes, it was definitely a lot heavier than I expected. But that was a pleasant surprise about the movie. It explores some complex issues like the reality of sometimes having to put your life and success on hold for your partner. Tom gave up his big-time chef job to follow Violet to Michigan, where she got accepted for her Ph.D. in psychology. Watching his descent into madness as a result was also a surprising twist. I mean, leaving a loaded crossbow on the kitchen table? Dark.

A: There were a lot of interesting gender-role reversals. For starters, Tom makes a living cooking. Chris Parnell's character, Tom's friend in Michigan (who introduces Tom to cross-bows in the first place), also moved for his partner's career and is a stay-at-home dad. And speaking of dark elements, the inevitability of doom here is pretty clear: When Violet and Tom move to Michigan, they know that he could end up resenting her for uprooting him right when his career's about to take off. They talk about it and seem to be on a good path. They move. And things still go really wrong.

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N: Right, and you wonder whether they would have gone just as wrong had Violet instead stayed behind in San Francisco to support Tom's career. There's a lot of bruising Tom's delicate male ego takes, and you feel bad for him, but still wonder whether he would have just sucked it up had he been a woman. I liked the parallels in the movie too — Violet's sister gives up her career because she gets pregnant with Andy from Parks & Rec's baby (okay, fine, the character's name is Alex and he's played by Chris Pratt). So in a sense, love is about sacrifice. Is that the moral? Is there a moral?

A: I think that might be it. It's hard enough to find one person you love, even before you figure in how compatible your interests, lives, goals and such are. Most of us aren't going to find someone who's even 90 percent compatible with us. And if we do, that may not be the person we end up with. Love is about maintaining the desire to make it work. The movie also makes a point about postponing marriage, which is that you're never going to be totally ready. What do you think?

N: I think the point the movie makes is that you're never really going to find the "perfect" person, but that life isn't perfect, and when it feels right, you just have to go with it. I don't think the movie advocates postponing marriage — it shows the characters getting progressively unhappy the longer their engagement drones on. 

On an unrelated note, I felt like Mindy Kaling's talents were way underused here. She could have had more screen time as Violet's wacky sidekick, discussing Tom's craziness over brunch! Violet could have used a girlfriend here other than her sister. I would also like to add that Jason Segel and Emily Blunt have a surprisingly hot on-screen chemistry. 

A: I'm not a sucker for weddings at all, but I did like the choose-your-own-adventure style wedding at the end. I wouldn't give it away, but you can say it's the sweetest movie wedding ever and shows that the best stuff in life works out without rigid planning.

N: I agree! That wedding scene alone makes the movie worth watching.

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