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Grey’s Clips: The Five Year Engagement


If you ever find yourself in front of the camera of a live television interview there’s an unwritten rule to wave to your mother. The Five-year Engagement is the “Hey Mom!” to those who call Ann Arbor home.

Snowy stills of the Diag and Zingerman’s Deli feel familiarly homey. Establishing shots host Michigan’s Block M and Hill Auditorium dotting the horizon. UofM’s midwestern atmosphere is solidified with local references and supporting characters’ distinct northern dialect.

My favorite part of this amalgamation is the nuclear cast. Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Kevin Hart, and Chris Pratt, even Mindy Kaling tie this piece together. Funnily enough, it just boils down to “What? Kevin Hart in Ann Arbor?” Frequently I find myself catching the framing of shots with my eyes when walking downtown, looking down at the ground where the cast and crew were stationed previously.

Michigan is primarily displayed in its harsher months. In fact, without spoiling, the film’s most discombobulated times are when Michigan is in summer. I like this trait of the movie because I would define Ann Arbor more by its winters than its summers. The two major locations of the film: San Francisco and Ann Arbor are made explicitly and visually set apart.

The Five Year Engagement’s commentary on relationships feels raw and while wrapped up neatly with jokes and jabs, the subject matter is explored in this film like no other. The reluctance and compromise feel like a documentary at times because of how starkly they mirror reality.

The film isn’t the most revolutionary but it is an uncommon twist on the typical rom-com formats that precursored this flic. It is an easy watch and doesn’t demand the most eagle-eyed viewers. There is subtext and symbolism but it finds the audience without being cryptic.

The ratings the film garnered don’t elude to it being the most critically acclaimed piece, with average scores across platforms. However, at the worldwide box office, it grossed over 60 million dollars, making 30 million on top of the production costs, which bodes very well for the studio. This was followed by the studio being reimbursed for 25% to 30% of production costs in tax credits for every shoot in Michigan at the tail end of the 2008 Film incentive legislation. That’s why movies like “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Batman v Superman” had shoots in Detroit.

I love The Five-Year Engagement and it will always have a place in my heart as Ann Arbor’s hometown hero.

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About the Contributor
Grey Phillips
Grey Phillips, Journalist
Grey spends his free time looking for Porsche 911 silhouettes and budgeting his paychecks between Arc’teryx and his girlfriend. Grey also enjoys driving on country roads with no point B. He finds pleasure in the little things like saying "wow" towards the mundane and raising his eyebrows in the mirror. Grey is excited to be on the Communicator staff for his first year and is looking forward to what it brings!

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