Q: Is the "tell me about yourself" interview opener a make-or-break question, or more of a 5 minute warm-up where I can share where I was born, my story, and what I am interested in?
Well, first off, you should never spend 5 minutes answering any question. You should practice answering questions in short, concise statements that last no longer than 1 to 2 minutes.
With regard to the "tell me about yourself" question, many interviewers like to start out with a general question like this to allow you to steer the conversation in a direction that you want. You should take advantage of this, and highlight some key points from your background that accentuate your strengths and invite your interviewer to ask follow-up questions. However, make sure you answer the question as it is asked. If your interviewer asks you to summarize your resume in a couple of minutes, make sure you answer the general question as you move from strength to strength.
It is not a "make-or-break" question. It is a "break the ice" question, and an opportunity for you to get comfortable with the interview process. Learn to use it to your advantage. By the way, I am assuming you are kidding about going back to when you were born, but just to be clear, you should focus on relevant experiences that will show your interviewer that you will perform well in the job at hand. A little bit of local color is fine, but don't expand the question to too much detail, or you will lose the interviewer's attention and turn an advantage into a disadvantage.