Emily Blunt & Jason Segel Throw Their Rehearsal Dinner at the Northlake Tavern"/>
The Dinner: A medium Logger Special (Canadian bacon, Italian sausage, black olives, green peppers, and white onions) at Northlake Tavern & Pizza House, located underneath I-5's Ship Canal Bridge, in between Wallingford and the U-District.
The Screenplate: Ann Arbor, Michigan is not a shitty, perma-frigid college town in the middle of snowhere. But The Five-Year Engagement makes it seem like it. Other than a running time that's maybe 15 minutes too long, that's this epic romantic comedy's only real weakness.
Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are a San Francisco couple who get engaged in the movie's opening scene. Before they get very far into their wedding planning, Segel's best friend (Parks & Rec's brodacious Chris Pratt) knocks up Blunt's sister (Alison Brie) and end up beating the more established couple to both the altar and delivery room. While Segel plays an ace sous chef to Seattleite Lauren Weedman's Cat Cora, Blunt fails to get into a tenure-track psychology program at Cal-Berkeley. But she does get into the University of Michigan, and Segel swiftly agrees to subjugate himself in light of her professional aspirations.
In reality, Ann Arbor is an upbeat oasis from Detroit, with a "public Ivy" as its economic and cultural engine. In Segel's film (he co-wrote; Judd Apatow, naturally, produced), it's a bastion of snow, gray skies, shitty sweaters and alcoholic huntsmen. This dynamic compels Segel, forced to slum it preparing Reubens at a deli for lack of proper cheffing gigs about town, to pine for Frisco.
Yet false as Ann Arbor's depiction might be, it makes for good comedy, and what sounds like a really corny idea for a movie is chockablock with surprisingly edgy and realistic dialogue. Blunt and Segel really work as a couple--and really have to work at being a couple--even if Segel still makes it impossible to believe that he isn't the lab-conceived result of a Judge Reinhold clone session.
Seattle Weekly food critic Hanna Raskin was born and raised in Ann Arbor, a town sullied only by the fact that San Francisco 49er (maybe that's where they got the location ideas) head football coach and Michgan alum Jim Harbaugh once asked my wife, then a college-aged waitress, to cut his steak for him when it was plainly obvious he had functional hands of his own (Harbaugh's dining companion: Stephen Baldwin). Asked what Seattle eating establishment most closely mirrored the food scene of A-Squared, Raskin didn't hesitate to single out the Northlake Tavern.
"Wherever there are students, professors, pizza and beer, the spirit of Ann Arbor is there," explains Raskin.
Sounds like the sort of place any red-blooded American would want to live, especially with Emily Blunt.