In the lands of storytelling, it really is all about keeping things as fresh as humanly possible or some cases making fun of how stale things can actually get. "They Came Together" is actually a fairly amusing romantic comedy that pokes fun at so many of the genres over used tropes and gags and it makes for an interesting bit of counterprogramming comedy.
"They Came Together" is a classic tale of love in the big city that takes on a life of its own when Joel (Paul Rudd) executive at a big candy company and Molly (Amy Poehler) owner of an independent candy shop meet at a party where they are being set up with each other, of course it’s hate at first sight. To make matters worse, Joel is hung up on his sexy ex (Cobie Smulders) who has recently dumped him like a bad habit. However in the face of all these obstacles they amazingly fall in love, until they break up about two thirds of the way through, and Molly starts dating her accountant (Ed Helms) and Joel gets back together with his ex. But then right at the end….
Rarely does a movie lean into the joke as hard as "They Came Together" does and while I'll be the first to admit that it takes a minute to get used to and it's not the kind of comedy that will be for everyone, it does pay off in spades later on in the process.
Writer/Director David Wain might best known for his work on the cult comedy hit "Wet Hot American Summer" that has turned into a resume that includes the likes of "Role Models", "Wanderlust" and the show "Children's Hospital" and here with this comedy that is so very unconventional as it destroys the conventional nature of the romantic comedy. We as an audience aren't eased into anything, we are rather clubbed over the head with it from minute one. Wain isn't going for subtlety here, he's taking an entire genre to task and either wants us to get on board or to simply get out as he leans into the tired jokes of "the city being its own character", the awkward first double date and the impassioned plea to get her back (jokes that are rom-com staples) so damn hard that you'd think the entire movie might tip over.
To his credit, he just doesn't let up and that is why this works. It is the kind of film that walks right up to the line of being something akin to a Zucker Brothers spoof but never crosses it as both he and his ensemble cast have a keen sense of the material and the type of movie they are making. It would have easy to slyly wink at the camera and play it for cheap laughs, but instead they play with a totally earnest tone that makes hit that much more.
Paul Rudd is a Wain veteran and hits the tones dead on of the aw shucks unlucky in love leading man and knows how to wink, bat his eye lashes in just the right way to make audiences love him. Amy Poehler is a little too sarcastic to play the female lead in this genre busting comedy but she certainly isn't bad as both her and Rudd have great chemistry together and they make it all work quite well. A very solid supporting cast helps move this train along including the always underrated Christopher Meloni and Cobie Smulders right beside a plethora of cameos that range from brilliant to down right inspired.
At the end of the day, "They Came Together" won't be for everyone as it is just a little too irreverent to get embraced by a main stream audience, but for some counter programming laughs, they just don't much better than this.
4 out of 5 stars.
"They Came Together" opens today in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary as well as via most VOD platforms.