"The Five-Year Engagement": A Realistic and Funny Take on Relationships

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
May 22nd, 2012

In "The Five-Year Engagement," Emily Blunt and Jason Segel play an engaged couple who are forced to postpone their wedding when their careers get in the way. The pair has such great on-screen chemistry that someone who doesn't know better may think that they are a couple in real life. Though the two are good friends, they aren't married to each other. Blunt is married to "The Office" star John Krasinski, while Segel is single.

Though Segel and Blunt are not an item, Segel co-wrote the movie with her in mind as Violet to whom his character Tom is engaged. He had already worked with her twice: in 2011's "The Muppets" and 2010's "Gulliver's Travels." He enjoyed working with her so much that when he and frequent collaborator Nicholas Stoller sat down to write the screenplay, they wrote the part hoping she would agree to do it. Luckily for them, Blunt loved the script and signed on to play Violet.

Most of the story takes place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the University of Michigan is located. The university is a central part of the story because it is where Violet gets a job offer after graduating from college. The couple moves to Ann Arbor after postponing their wedding and go through all the normal changes and adjustments that happen with a big move.

Most of the filming took place in April and May of 2011 in and around Ann Arbor. There were a few scenes that had to be filmed in March to take advantage of the snow that would be melted by May. The rest had to be filmed later because Segel had to finish filming his television show "How I Met Your Mother" before he was free to work on "The Five-Year Engagement" on a daily basis.

Filming started in earnest on April 25, 2011, with Segel, Blunt, Chris Pratt of "Parks and Recreation" and Alison Brie of "Community." The local community went wild with reported sightings of scenes being filmed outdoors. There were also many photos of the four plus Krasinski hanging out together in the area on their days off. In fact, there are several videos available online that show the friends singing karaoke at a bar in the area.

The entire group is so close, in fact, that Blunt casually called Segel "Jase" when they did interviews together to promote the film. This kind of easygoing chemistry translated well on the screen and helped make the film funny and touching. The audience really buys the two as a couple. There are many romantic comedies where two actors are paired together but don't really have the chemistry to seem like a realistic couple. That is definitely not the case with "The Five-Year Engagement."

There are some scenes where Tom and Vivian's relationship gets rocky and they begin to bicker. The scenes are so raw and realistic that some in the audience might find them to be very familiar. While promoting the film, Blunt and Segel admitted that a lot of those scenes didn't follow the script verbatim. They felt that real couples don't have a script when they fight, so their words and grammar are not perfect. Instead of memorizing lines, they used an outline and ad-libbed the actual words. The result is a set of fighting scenes that viewers can really relate to.

Though the two stars are very popular and could command a huge salary, both took pay cuts to do the film. With a bad economy and movie revenues down, studios are more cautious when it comes to bankrolling films. Writer/Directors Stoller and Segel agreed to do the film on a small budget so the movie could be produced. They also got Judd Apatow to come on board as a producer. Apatow's films have grossed so much money at the box office that many movie studios clamor to work with him. With the combination of likable lead actors, a modest budget and Apatow as a producer, Universal couldn't say no.

This wasn't the first time that Segel and Stoller have worked together. They also collaborated on "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," which was another small-budget film that Universal made after Judd Apatow agreed to produce. They also worked together on "The Muppets." With so much success, it doesn't matter how well this film does at the box office. These two obviously should continue to work together, especially if the results are as funny, realistic and heartwarming as "The Five-Year Engagement."