Romantic Comedies have been a subgenre of diminishing returns. Some are great classics but as of late they have gotten substantially worse and more formulaic. What would have added insult to injury is if romantic comedies were given a shoddy parody movie that just mocked popular films with insipid pop culture references (think Epic Movie and that ilk). Fortunately, director David Wain developed a script that gives the subgenre a good ribbing without resorting to schlock or stupidity.
The film begins with two couples at a fancy eatery, one (Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler) relating the story of how they meet to the other (Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper)
Joel (Paul Rudd) is your average guy living in New York (it's almost like a character itself!) who is an executive at Candy Systems and Research (CSR) and seems to be leading a happy life with his girlfriend Tiffany (Cobie Smulders). In hopes of getting a promotion, he needs to oversee the building of a megastore and find a way to eliminate the small candy store (a store so lovable and harmless you couldn't possibly hate) run by Molly (Amy Poehler). Mutual friends also invite them to the same party and while things get off to a rocky start, they soon well, come together.
Wain's direction and script are great in this film. The pacing is great with the movie clocking in at a breezy 84 minutes. They Came Together starts, lands its punches, and get outs while other rom coms would have been building up characters. Wain also seems to have great faith in his cast, which is chock full of great cameos and frequent collaborators. The script sometimes does get a bit too involved in the cliches and tropes of the art, but if the viewer can accept that the cliches and tropes are all part of the joke, it becomes no great matter.
This Examiner would say that They Came Together lands about 85-90% of the jokes that it makes. Most of the film is not gut busting laughter worthy jokes, but there was a wide grin on my face almost the entire time with loud laughter at many parts.
Rudd and Poehler are dynamite together, throwing caution to the wind and going along with everything that comes their way. Their chemistry is also to be noted, had this movie played it straight and been a typical romantic comedy, it may have actually worked. The rest of the cast is also really committed and really funny, especially Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper. This movie also has some great cameos including some that were very surprising in a funny way.
Overall, They Came Together is a funny satire of a well worn genre. It may not land any fatal blows, so the actual subgenre may not get any better. But if you've been forced to sit through the real deal, and even if you haven't, you'll get a kick out of They Came Together.
The movie is available now on Video On Demand, Itunes, Amazon Instant Video and other platforms.