Dan and I went to see The Five-Year Engagement on Friday night. I’m a real big fan of pretty much everything Jason Segel does- Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Muppets. He’s willing to go over the edge (full frontal while getting his heart broken onscreen,) is great at off-the-wall humor (Russell Brand singing ‘I want to be inside you’ while thrusting his hips explicitly at a five-star resort in Hawaii, + every single moment of the Muppets), while also being down to earth and totally relatable.
I, for one, could relate to Five-Year Engagement. Violet (Emily Blunt) and Tom (Jason Segel) move away from San Francisco so that Violet can pursue her academic dreams. Tom’s not too thrilled about it, but he’s up for it, because that’s what people who plan to spend the rest of their lives together do for each other.
There’s a flash from sunny seaside San Francisco to bitterly cold and snowy Michigan and I laughed out loud. I just moved from San Francisco to Canada.
Blue Bird San Francisco
Winter in Calgary
Tom, a chef at a swanky restaurant in a city where food is practically religion, goes looking for a job in Ann Arbor. “You’re a chef and you left San Francisco?!” the restaurateurs cackle and laugh. “You idiot!” they howl. “Are you crazy?” I get some raised eyebrows in Calgary when I tell them I moved here from SF. “Why?” is everyone’s inevitable question.
But what I loved most about this movie was it’s willingness to explore what it really means to be in a long-term relationship.
At one point, Violet and Tom have broken up and Tom’s having dinner with his parents. He says to them, “We’re just not sure we’re 100% right for each other.” His parents sort of snort with laughter.
“Your father and I aren’t even 90% right for each other. Not even 60% right for each other. But he’s the love of my life.”
Violet and her sister have a hilarious verbal duel in which the sister’s daughter asks them to speak in Elmo and Cookie Monster Voices.
Violet and her sister
“Coooookie thinks he just wasn’t the perfect cookie.”
“Well Elmo says there is no perfect cookie. At some point you just have to pick a cookie!”
Ok Guys, let’s get real. There is no perfect cookie! At least I know that I am not a perfect cookie. I briefly, when I was first falling in love with Dan, thought that I might be a perfect cookie. That was when Dan thought every little thing I did was so cute. Even when my suitcase exploded in his bedroom on my visits. But guess what? When we were living together for reals, my messiness was not that cute. It was a plain old ugly mess, just like every other mess in this world. Turns out I’m more stubborn than I thought I was; I really like to get my way. I stain every white shirt that crosses my body. I could go on and on. Being in a long term relationship not only means getting all of your most wonderful qualities mirrored back at you, it also forces you to confront the less than shiny things about yourself and the person you’re with. It’s really easy to hate a person who forces you to see things you don’t like about yourself. Trust me. But then. This is how we grow.
I read an article that speculated whether marriage is obsolete. I feel like there is this ongoing battle between married women and single women. Married people think they know where it’s at. Single people think married people are crazy and sacrifice too much. I think this fight is silly. As is true with everything, people should do what they want. I don’t think marriage is obsolete- clearly, a lot of people want to get married. What’s obsolete is the idea is that everyone should get married, or even should want to, and that you’re some kind of lesser human being if you don’t get married. That’s absolutely stupid. Marriage is not for everyone.
You have to be willing to love your partner even if they turn into a deer hunting, unkempt chops sporting, ugly knit sweater wearing version of themselves (like Tom does.) You have to be willing to forgive each other—(Tom and Violet both give up wayward kisses.) And you might have to be up for leaving a place you love for the person you love. In other words: it’s not always pretty, and it’s not always fun, and it’s most definitely not easy or perfect.
The sweaters get worse as the movie goes on. There’s even a knit tuxedo that makes an appearance.
But in Tom and Violet’s case, it’s worth it. And I can honestly say that even though Dan left the yogurt on the counter yesterday for me to clean up and he hates it when I don’t pick up my feet when I wear my slippers, I love him in a way I could not have understood before we got this far. It’s less glossy than I thought it would be. But it’s better than gloss. Like anything worth doing in life, we’ve had to fight for it, and we’ll continue to have to fight for it. Our love–our us-ness–is as imperfect as we are, and that’s what makes it real and true.