The Five-Year Engagement

Caution Spoilers!
When Tom and Violet get engaged after only dating a year, some worry they are rushing into things, but a series of unexpected life changes delay the big day five years. When Violet (Emily Blunt) gets accepted to PHD program in another part of the country, Tom (Jason Segal) agrees to quit his job as a sous chef at a hot restaurant to help her follow her dream, however, Michigan is an odd fit for Tom. While Violet is the star student in her group and her contract extended, the best job Tom can find is in a sandwich shop and he slips deeper and deeper into depression. The two patiently await the perfect time for their wedding, but eventually learn that there’s never a perfect time for anything and sometimes you just have to pick a cookie and eat it, but more on that later.
One thing I like about Jason Segal’s writing is that there’s something refreshing untrained about it. His scripts are sprinkled with specifics that you know must have been inspired by moments of his life. He also is more than willing to “go there”, he’s never afraid to appear nude or perform a revealing sex scene. There are also a lot of familiar faces in his films. He clearly puts thought into who he wants to spend his time with when filming. I feel like more than the vast majority of actors, you get to know Jason Segal as a person when you watch his work.
Early in the movie, Hubby pointed out that all their troubles could have been easily been avoided. Their biggest problem is that Tom had to give up his culinary career so Violet could further her studies and continue on the road towards becoming a professor. Michigan is not know more its culinary scene but its cost of living is extremely low, so Hubby said Tom should have tried to start his own business, and then later in the movie, Tom does start his own business after he moves back to San Francisco and agrees to relocate the business to Michigan to be with Violet again. The whole movie could have been avoided if they had just thought of that of when they first moved! It makes the rest of the film a little tiresome being based on such a flimsy conflict.
In the end, the message seemed to be you can’t wait for that moment for when everything is perfect. This is highlighted by the relationship between Violet’s sister Suzie (Alison Brie) and Tom’s best friend Alex (Chris Pratt). The two hook-up at Tom and Violet’s engagement party and quickly marry when Suzie discovers she’s pregnant. The two repeatedly throw caution to the wind and build a relatively happy little family for themselves. Brie and Pratt are a lot of fun and hopefully in the next year or two they’ll be able to be the leads in romantic comedies. However, Brie’s British accent is a tad distractingly bad but hearing her and Blunt fight as Elmo and Cookie Monster is a classic sister moment.
While The Five-Year Engagement isn’t a classic it is a cute date night movie with a lot of familiar faces.

Parks and Recreation

There was a lot of to-do on the internet about major changes NBC plans to make to their Thursday line-up. While critical favorites like 30 Rock, Community, and Parks and Recreation were picked up for new seasons, each show is signed on for 13 episodes and there is a rumor that these will be abbreviated farewell seasons. If this is true, it’s an attempt to compromise with the shows’ loyal fans by giving the characters time to say good-bye but still getting these lower rated shows out of the way. While Tina Fey seems ready to wrap up 30 Rock, I think Parks and Rec still has a lot of stories to tell.

I was resistant to Parks and Rec at first. I am a big Amy Poehler fan, but I was confused by NBC’s attempt to package it as an Office spin-off and was tired of the fake reality show, talking head format. I tried to catch a few episodes when I was home on a Thursday night, cut I couldn’t get into the characters. I found Poehler’s Leslie Knope a bit tiresome. A female Michael Scott, who didn’t get how embarrassing she was. They started out having her be a little incompetent and gave her a hopeless crush on her co-worker Mark, who regretted the one time they hooked-up. Leslie wasn’t a real person when we first met her, but the show did something that is almost unheard of in sitcoms, they made their lead character less cartoonish with time. Many formerly brilliant shows fall apart over seasons, as the writers play up ridiculous cliched traits, making the familiar characters unrecognizable. Leslie has become a more complete person as the show progressed, and now is a stand out at her job and is part of a healthy relationship based mutual appreciation and respect. Other characters grew on me in time, most noticeably Chris Pratt’s Andy, who started off as a dumb oaf, but has come to show a huge heart and child’s ability to love unconditionally.

At the end of season two, the show added two new cast members, Rob Lowe and Adam Scott, as state auditor who came in to advise on budget cuts. Rob Lowe plays the enthusiastic and health conscious Chris Traeger and this may be the best role of his long career. Lowe has had a lot of embarrassments over his over 30 years in the public eye, but he has kept a terrific sense of humor and will really do anything the writers throw at him, no matter how silly it might make him look. Scott’s Ben Wyatt was an intimidating foe for Leslie at first, as she worried he would make devastating cuts to her department, but over time, they learned they had a shared love for community and local government, and a forbidden flirtation (there was a rule prohibiting co-workers’ dating) developed and they entered a relationship that they knew could cost both their careers. I really think Poehler and Scott have the best chemistry on television right now and I will continue to root for them.

Earlier this year, a blogger I follow accused Leslie of being less of a feminist by letting Ben step in to “solve her problems for her”. She cited the episode where Ben punches a potential voter who insults Leslie. Many argued that Leslie and Ben are the most feminist couple on tv, because when their relationship is found out by their bosses, Ben is the one who sacrifices his career so Leslie could continue her’s. It wasn’t Ben saving Leslie, it was a role reversal that showed his respect for her.

And don’t think I would forget to mention the breakfast loving, government hating Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman). Not only does he deliver every line with perfection, his friendship Leslie is a beautiful thing to watch.

Last week, in the season four finale, Leslie got to realize a lifelong dream by voting for herself in a election. I have to admitted, I teared up with pride. That’s what great television does, gives you people who’s joys and sorrows you can share, just like you do a friend.

Favorite Episode: The Fight