They Came Together Movie Review
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.
Meanwhile, Wain and Showalter keep everything sharply witty and knowing, never indulging in idiotic mimicry like those Date Movie pastiches. Everything may be rather predictable and mindless, but it's consistently hilarious, poking fun at the way most of us imagine our lives as if we're living a movie in which we're the stars. So it's rather disappointing that the romance itself never gains any traction. It's impossible to care what happens to Joel and Molly, because their story begins to feel like one joke stretched a bit too thinly. So even if it's enjoyably absurd and relentlessly entertaining, the fact that it never generates even a hint of emotion leaves everything feeling somewhat pointless.