How do you spoof a genre that's already a joke? Filmmakers David Wain and Michael Showalter clearly think the answer is to go for broke with a nonstop barrage of silliness, because some of the jokes are bound to stick. They did the same thing for teen summer-camp comedies more than a decade ago with Wet Hot American Summer, which stars many of the same actors. And while this movie is just as hilarious, it never quite transcends its own jokiness. Because as a rom-com it's never very engaging.
The story plays out as Joel and Molly (Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler) meet up with their friends (Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper) and regale them with the story of their romance. Everything about their courtship is just like in the movies, from the meet-cute to the fact that New York is another character in their story. Molly runs an adorable candy shop, while Joel is a "not too handsome or too Jewish" corporate raider sent to shut her down, but they hit it off, engage in a wildly energetic first sexual encounter, then go through the usual montage sequences on their way to the usual rough patches ("Your dreams don't pay the rent!"), breakups and mad-dash reunions.
Since it's told in flashbacks, the film feels almost like a collection of comedy sketches, most of which are ridiculously funny. The jokes are clever and pointed, with riotous side characters including sassy best friends, inappropriate relatives, idiotic coworkers and clingy ex-lovers. So every scene is a zany mixture of goofy slapstick, surreal visual gags and hysterically overstated emotion. Thankfully, the cast is more than adept at wringing every moment for laughter. Rudd and Poehler have impeccable timing, and they're supported by a terrific cast of seasoned comical actors, including amusing cameos from the likes of Adam Scott, Michael Shannon and Norah Jones.
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David Wain, Hong Chau and Leonard Earl Howze - 2nd Annual Lexus Short Films 'Life Is Amazing' presented by The Weinstein Company and Lexus at the SVA Theater - New York City, New York, United States - Wednesday 6th August 2014
When their over-extended Manhattan lifestyle falls apart, George and Linda (Rudd and Aniston) head to Atlanta to regroup at the home of George's rich brother (Marino) and his medicated wife (Watkins). But on the way they stop at a B&B in Elysium, a countryside commune that sparks their imagination of a possible new life. Led by forgetful founder Carvin (Alda) and self-important guru Seth (Theroux), George and Linda are surprised at how well they fit in.
But this free-spirited, free-loving society starts to strain their relationship.
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George and Linda are the ultimate urban couple. Living in New York, they both lead hectic lifestyles and are used to running into the bonnet of a taxi on a regular basis (don't worry, they always walk away unscathed). One disadvantage of their fast paced jobs is their tiredness in the evenings. Whenever George and Linda plan on having sex, they find themselves falling asleep on each other.
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As with his past two efforts, Wain's latest is top-lined by the invaluable Paul Rudd, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Wain. He plays Danny, a spokesperson for Minotaur Energy Drink who spends his days telling teenagers not to do drugs with a fluffy Minotaur dancing behind him. Inside that jolly Minotaur costume is Wheeler (Seann William Scott), a co-worker who wants nothing more than to be Dan's friend and get laid. This comes as a surprise as it seems that Danny has no friends save for his girlfriend Beth (Elizabeth Banks), and even she is beginning to tire of his wasting-my-life hissy fits. It's when Beth breaks it off that Dan loses it and tells a cafeteria filled with teenagers how awesome drugs are and how life sucks. That's before he mounts the Minotaur Mobile upon a statue of a horse.
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With a few celebrities on board, the group assembles (with a few exceptions) for key member David Wain's The Ten, a foul-mouthed, dirty-as-diapers, Republican-baiting retelling of the Ten Commandments. The stories are stitched together by a loose narrative thread involving a man (Paul Rudd) serving as narrator who is leaving his wife (Famke Janssen) for a younger ditz (Jessica Alba).
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But there is hope at your local video store -- Wet Hot American Summer, a hysterical spoof on 1980s pop culture featuring several members of The State, the sketch comedy troupe which had its own, brilliant MTV show in the mid-1990s. (Note to younger readers: That was before Cribs and The Real World were run in a continuous loop.)
Continue reading: Wet Hot American Summer Review