The Five-Year Engagement

By Casey Tourangeau

Mailed on May 09, 2012

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Dear Zachariah Kucynski
Food Stylist

Dear Zachariah,

Poaching an egg is tricky business. Getting that perfect oval shape, the firm whites and thick-but-runny yolk--it takes practice. Lots of practice.

Why do I mention this? Because, in the goofily charming introduction to our characters in The Five-Year Engagement, we meet Tom (Jason Segel) as he prepares a pair of perfectly poached eggs. This may be the first time I've ever seen food preparation used as character development. It's immediately clear that this isn't the standard man-child that populates much of producer Judd Apatow's work.

No, Tom is an accomplished chef living and working in San Francisco, on the path to being head chef at a new it-restaurant. He's also recently engaged to prospective psychology grad student Violet (Emily Blunt). In other words, his souffle is on the rise.

This being a comedy, though, eggs - and hearts - are sure to break. Soon enough, Violet is accepted into a graduate program in Ann Arbor, Michigan, (apparently Hollywood's version of hell). So Tom makes the bitter choice to follow his bride-to-be to her new school.

Now that he's given up his dream job as a head chef, it might seem like there's no longer a place for you to practice your fine food stylings. But like I said earlier, character development. Whether it's tasting wedding cakes, preparing venison Tom has hunted himself, or even avoiding the temptation of day-old donuts, food helps flavour Tom and Violet's evolving relationship.

And it all works. The ups, downs, and in-betweens of this protracted courtship are always involving and well-defined; often because of the food you have placed on screen. In fact, this film brings together two of what appear to be Segel's obsessions: Muppets and food. What other writer would hinge a climactic scene on Cookie Monster and find a way to make it work?




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