I have been dreaming of this moment since it was first announced: The Last Five Years the movie. I wishI could check how many times I googled this phrase since I heard about it more than a year and a half ago; I’m sure the number is pretty high. I figured the movie adaption would be great, because duh, it’s The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown. But alas, just like books to movie mishaps, there are also musical to movie mishaps.
For those who have no idea what The Last Five Years is about, I will enlighten you with the abridged version. The musical begins with Cathy singing about the end of her relationship with Jamie, her husband. In the next scene Jamie is singing about Cathy, his new girlfriend. As the show continues, Jamie sings their story from start to finish and Cathy sings their story from the end to the beginning. In the original off-Broadway musical, Jamie and Cathy only see each other face-to-face during the wedding scene, which is where their stories turn from good to bad (Jamie) and from bad to good (Cathy). The show ends at Cathy and Jamie’s first date, Cathy’s version, and the show ends for Jamie when his relationship is over with Cathy. I feel like if you don’t have this information before you watch the movie you are going to be batshit confused.
Now, moving right along to the two characters in the movie: Cathy and Jamie. Before we get to the one character that didn’t bring me to a standing ovation, let me talk about the one that did: Anna Kendrick. That girl can sing! She was the PERFECT actress to play Cathy. Perfect. She sang the role like it was made for her. Her song “A Summer in Ohio” was hilarious. Her facial expressions were spot on during every song. “Still Hurting” almost brought me to tears and the movie had just begun.
And now for the other character in the musical: Jeremy Jordan who played Jamie. Sigh. He did not live up to my expectations. There are only two characters in this musical, and if one of them sucks, then the whole chemistry of the show is screwed. I guess Jeremy looked like Jamie, but he definitely didn’t sound like him. Didn’t he have an audition? What was up with his rendition of “Shiksa Goddess?” Why was it so choppy? (Although the scene with all of the Jewish girls his mother would have liked him to marry was nicely done.)
The only song that Jeremy Jordan sang up to par was “The Schmuel Song.” I normally don’t even like that song, but he made it better. That entire scene in the apartment was beautiful, and for a second, it made me rethink Jeremy as Jamie. But it wasn’t enough. I despised his next solo song “A Miracle Would Happen.” He just wasn’t a good enough Jamie.
The biggest problem I had with Jamie in the movie was how a lot of songs he sings in the musical have the F bomb in them. As an English major, we stress over and over again that words are just words. So why, oh why, did this word get dropped from so many songs where it brought so much meaning and emphasis? I can only assume it was because using the word too many times would have made the movie rated R instead of PG 13. Other words in other songs were changed, and could easily be ignored, but I could not ignore the lack of Jamie’s angry droppings of the F bomb. I guess this wasn’t Jeremy Jordan’s fault, but it really aggravated me.
“See I’m Smiling” is one of my favorite songs and I don’t think the movie portrayed it well enough. Anna’s acting in that scene wasn’t the best. “The Next Ten Minutes” wasn’t as beautiful as I had hopped (maybe because Jeremy sang too) and “Climbing Uphill” was pretty awful. I know I’m being nitpicky, but why was the lyric “I’m climbing uphill, Daddy,” changed to, “I’m climbing uphill, Jamie?” An unnecessary change. It ruined the whole song for me. “Moving too fast” was one of the songs that Jeremy sang okay and “Nobody needs to know” wasn’t the worst, although I didn’t like what was going on in the actual film while he was singing.
A big reason I like the musical better is because both characters aren’t in every scene together, like they are in the movie. I understand this would have made an awkward/boring movie, but it still kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I felt like some of these scenes were awkward in the movie because Cathy and Jamie were in them together. Some of the dialogue was weird and forced.
The Last Five Years isn’t an awful movie, but it isn’t spectacular either. It’s just okay. I’ll watch it again, sing along, and get annoyed when words are changed/dropped etc. Kudos to Anna Kendrick for being awesome, I can’t wait until Pitch Perfect 2 comes out!