My Head Is Killing Me and Jason Segel Owes Me Money.

I’m feeling a bit lightheaded.  I’m really hungry, but it’s too hot to eat.  I’m also really, really thirsty, and I keep putting ice in my water but the ice keeps melting really, really quickly.  All I wanna do is take off my pants, but it feels like they’re plastered to my legs.  I could turn on the air-conditioning, but I feel that would be wasteful, seeing that this house is huge and I’m the only one here.  It’s hot.  It’s too damn hot.  My head feels hollow.  My brain has evaporated.  My brain.  My brain is GONE.

I just got back from taking a very long walk in the very hot sun.  Well, two walks, I guess.  In between those two walks, I saw The Five-Year Engagement.  

The horror.  THE HORROR.

I walked to the theater because I wasn’t doing anything else and it was just as hot inside my house as it was outside my house.   I threw on some jeans and a tank top and slathered myself in sunscreen.  I put the sunscreen in my Evelyn Evelyn tote bag, grabbed my CD player, loaded it with The Lyre of Orpheus, and headed out.  When I walked across the crosswalk in front of a freeway off-ramp, a group of bikers hooted at me.  It was all kinds of “Hey, baby!” and “Whoo-eee!” and even a, “Look at that ass!”  It didn’t make me feel sexy.  It made me feel like hurting someone.  Somehow, and much to the dismay of you, dear reader, I made it to the theater without beating anyone to death.  That would have made for a much more exciting post.

Ya know what?  I shoulda just gone to see Dark Shadows again.  Or I could have rolled the dice and asked for a ticket to The Avengers.   Instead I saw the movie that stars two actors I like and respect.  Do I no longer like and respect Jason Segel and Emily Blunt?  That would be preposterous.  Of course I still like and respect them.  I am most disappointed in Jason Segel.  Why?  Because he wrote the movie, and The Five-Year Engagement is not a movie — it is a festering pustule churning out ooze on a dead donkey’s dick.

Tom and Violet live in San Francisco.  Tom and Violet are in love.  Tom and Violet get engaged.  Things look good.  Tom works as a sous chef in the kitchen of a hip restaurant, and Violet is planning to study psychology at Berkeley.  But oh, she doesn’t get into Berkeley.  Instead, she has to go to school in the most Godforsaken state in the union.  That’s right, Michigan.  Oh, the dreaded Michigan.  A place where every man you meet is a deer hunter with a long, dirty beard and a drinking problem.  Every woman you meet is, well, you don’t meet many women, because this is, after all, MOVIE Michigan.  In this movie, the entire state of Michigan (because we never learn the name of the town Tom and Violet move to) has no redeeming qualities while San Francisco, a crowded city with a housing shortage, is 100% clean and pristine.  Yes.  There are absolutely no homeless people on the streets and all the houses look freshly painted and there’s no traffic.  Ever.

Tom and Violet agree that they are going to stay together during Violet’s two years of school, and that they will put the wedding on hold.  Nooo problem.  Of course, Violet has Nooo Problem adjusting to life in Michigan.  She loves her school, she loves her department, and she loves her one professor (played by the incomparable Welshman who deserves better than to be in this movie, Rhys Ifans).  Tom, on the other hand, is finding his new life farcically difficult.  He keep slipping in the snow.  Slipping a lot.  And he can’t find a job ANYWHERE except for a real down-home type of sandwich place, which, in my personal opinion, looked freaking delicious.  I’d eat there all the time.  But anyway, the point is Tom feels like a little girly man while Violet feels like she’s doing exactly what she’s worked for her entire life.

THAT’S. REALLY. IT.  That is the plot and the conflict.

So, one night Violet finds out that she may be staying at University of Michigan longer than originally expected.  When she tells Tom, he gets very sad and storms out of the room like a big, tough, emotionally stable man.  Later, we see them fighting in bed.  The fight, interestingly enough, is the best part of the movie because the dialogue isn’t peppered with unfunny and unoriginal and uncalled for penis jokes.  While I was watching the fight, I really felt like I was watching two adults who live on planet earth, not two adolescent cartoon characters who live in MOVIE Michigan.  In this ONE DECENT SCENE they talk about their feelings.  They talk about what pisses them off about their situation.  They talk about how they both hate having to postpone their wedding.  Through it all, they both really want to have a productive, mature conversation, but, as humans who dwell on planet earth, they can’t help but speak in bratty tones every once in a while.  It’s a good scene.

And then it ends.

Tom grows a beard.  Tom starts hunting every single day and pounding beers at 7am.  Tom kills and guts and skins and BBQs deer for dinner every night.  He brews his own mead.  He suddenly owns a crossbow.  Yes, Violet accidentally gets SHOT.  It’s HILARIOUS.  I SWEAR.

This period of the movie confused me.  Greatly.  It transformed from a shitty movie into a typical, benign sitcom.  Here’s the thing, though.  Part of the reason why events that occur in sitcoms are so broad and so extreme is because sitcoms have 20 minutes to tell stories, which is actually a decent excuse for sub par storytelling.  Why a full length feature film needs to resort to sitcommy situations in order to show that time has passed is beyond me.  Well, no, I know why it happens — because, like the plague, bad writing will always be with us.  I mean, combine bad writing with millions of dollars…Now I’m meandering.  Ya know what else meanders?  The Five-Year Engagement.

During Tom’s bearded hunting phase, Violet [finally] gets drunk and [predictably Good GOD predictably] kisses Rhys Ifans.  She feels guilty and runs off and finds Tom, who is already awake and miserably preparing dough for the miserable sandwich-making day that lies ahead.  Violet rambles about how much she loves him, and they decide to just get married.  Because, ya know, if they’re married, Tom will no longer have a problem with Michigan.

The wedding doesn’t end up happening, because Violet has to open her big mouth and tell Tom about the whole drunkenly kissing her professor thing.  Tom attempts to beat up the professor, and when he fails he then attempts to have drunken revenge sex with a sandwich-making co-worker.  When he realizes what he’s doing is wrong, he drunkenly stumbles through the snowy woods.  With NO PANTS ON.  Yes.  We see his butt.  And it’s not nearly as funny as his penis in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Let’s be honest, that was actually kinda funny.  Let’s be honest again.  We’ve SEEN the Segel Penis.  You can’t follow Segel Penis with Segel Butt.  It’s anti-climactic.

Tom wakes up in the frozen woods with no pants on.  He notices his toe is black.  He ends up in the hospital, where his toe is amputated.  Violet is there with him.  They break up.  We then see Tom and Violet in new relationships with people who aren’t right for them, and we are repeatedly slapped in the face with a BAD fucking metaphor that involves stale doughnuts.  It’s just a bad, bad metaphor.  So bad, I don’t know what it’s even supposed to MEAN.  I do know, however, that it is a pitiful and painful attempt at somewhat elevated screenwriting.  Sorry, but no.  Well, let me take that back.  I’m not sorry.  And no.

Don’t worry, they both get another half hour to find themselves before re-uniting and falling back in love and getting married in a ceremony so freaking saccharine it puts How I Met Your Mother to shame.  And ya know what?  I like How I Met Your Mother.  It can be as farcical and saccharine as it wants to.  It’s a stupid SITCOM on network television.  If that isn’t a handicap, I don’t know what is.

I honestly don’t remember the last shot of the movie.  Tom and Violet get married in a public park in San Francisco where no one is smoking pot, and then…then I don’t know.  Maybe the movie ends AT the wedding?  I can’t tell you.  WAIT, no, now I remember.  It ends with an unfunny callback to an unfunny joke that took place an hour-and-a-half earlier.  Ha.

Is it just me, or is being engaged for five years not entirely unheard of?  I agree it’s a long time, but it seems that putting a wedding on hold for things like higher education or job opportunities or temporary relocation is kind of common these days.  Am I the only person who holds this opinion?

I really was shocked to see “SCREENPLAY BY JASON SEGEL” flash across the screen during the end credits.  I know they can’t all be gems, but come on.  The man obviously knows how to write a screenplay, and I, personally, think he knows how to act.  He and Emily Blunt are just as charming as ever, and they really do have some good chemistry goin’ on.  Still, this movie sucks, and I do not know what the Hell happened.  In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, we at least get to see a depressive type of guy overcome his lower-than-healthy self-esteem, put on an excellent puppet show, and FORGET about that witch, Sarah Marshall.  What does The Five-Year Engagement show us?  Aside from how much Michigan sucks, what is the movie really about? Is it about how people should just get married as soon as they get engaged and not go to…to Michigan?

Jesus, Steff!  It’s about how life isn’t always perfect!  It’s about how love and marriage aren’t always perfect!  It’s about life, man!  It’s just like, ya know, it’s just real!

All right.  In that case, I stand corrected.  The Five-Year Engagement is about life.  And how Michigan is evil.

Regardless of what it’s really “about,” it left me with a headache and a general feeling of, “My brain is broke.”  Or, ya know what?  That could just as easily been the boiling sun’s fault.  My advice to myself?  You don’t need to leave the house to listen to Lyre of Orpheus.

I am now going to watch this live footage over and over again until the lameness is replaced by wanton badassary.  And I’m hungry.  Spinach and feta chicken sausage, here I come.

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4 thoughts on “My Head Is Killing Me and Jason Segel Owes Me Money.

  1. “In this movie, the entire state of Michigan (because we never learn the name of the town Tom and Violet move to) has no redeeming qualities.”

    Oh, I don’t know… it has a spunky band of psychology post-docs, led by a hot professor who, in spite of his obvious faults, leaps barbed-wire fences in good form and knows Tae Kwan Do (and uses it sparingly). And a pickle connoisseur.

    And San Francisco has that closeted Republican chef with no social skills, and a hyped-up emotionally repressed yoga instructor. I mean, I sort of think they mixed it up a little right?

    Having been an academic living in California for some time, I can tell you the idea of being stuck in a cold midwestern setting resonated profoundly. Michigan being uniformly bad wasn’t the point. It’s more about how the academic world threatens to displace you completely from what you know. And that’s on every post-doc’s mind, because there are 400 people competing for your job, and you wait in line for years, and then when you get one — or when you get something tenure-track, you just smile and say thank you.

    I’m definitely a fan of this blog, though. 🙂

    • Steff says:

      I’m honored that you read my blog, and doubley honored that you left a comment.

      I appreciate your point-of-view. It must be hard to imagine teaching anywhere other than UCSC. Not just any campus has a view like the one outside the music building.

      My real problem with the movie — and most contemporary romantic comedies — is that the adults on the screen don’t act like adults. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to be overly intellectual or boring, but they should be human-beings. Everyone Jason Segel met in Michigan was a cartoon character — the people he worked with, the people he hunted with, etc. I understand that comedies sometimes need to exaggerate the truth in order to make a situation funny, but I’m tired of crossbows and pratfalls.

  2. Sarah says:

    They were in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was filmed on the U of M Ann Arbor campus and Zingerman’s Deli is a real sandwich shop (where Segel’s character worked).

    • Steff says:

      I assumed U of M was in Ann Arbor, which is why I was extra confused about why Jason Segel’s character became a complete mountain man. I’ve heard Ann Arbor is a groovy college town — not really the kind of place where most of the people hunt and kill their own dinner.

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