02nd Sep2014

‘They Came Together’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Ed Helms, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Ian Black, Michael Murphy, Kenan Thompson, Jack McBrayer, Ken Marino | Written by David Wain, Michael Showalter | Directed by David Wain

They-Came-Together-cast

Spoof films are rarely done well. There is so little subtlety in them, and they often result in terribly written and ridiculous slapstick comedy films that mock other films in a very obvious and unrelentingly silly manner (see Scary Movie 4, Date Movie, Disaster Movie, A Haunted House) but this, a satire more than a spoof, finally shows the pretenders how it’s done, bringing a softer hand to a genre that is flooded with terribly over-bearing abominations.

Directed by David Wain (Role Models, Wanderlust) who co-writes it alongside Michael Showalter (Wet Hot American Summer), They Came Together is something of a throwback, reminiscent of older spoof-comedy films like Airplane.

The story follows Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) who are out to dinner with two friends, and their friends ask them how they “came together”… and so begins our tale, of the two meeting, and the variety of situations that they experience as they fall in love, fall out of love, fall in love again, and all the other things that come along with a love story. Oh, and the love story in question, the way in which the movie works, is its knowing glaring glance at the romantic-comedy genre. Using common things that have become used regularly in Hollywood rom-com’s, such as the way they meet, the way they walk down the street, the dialogue, and the other things that happen in the genre that just don’t happen in day-to-day life, the film steps over the line of absurd on plenty of occasions to deliver a tale very-much-like those we’ve heard before, but in a way that purposefully does so.

Rudd and Poehler were the perfect casting choices for this film, with both of them having an utter willingness to be completely ridiculous and silly on screen, and the chemistry of the two working well. The side cast, featuring names like Ellie Kemper (The Office), Bill Hader (Superbad), Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother), Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: SVU), Max Greenfield (New Girl) and Ed Helms (The Hangover) bring a big old hammer of humour down on the proceedings and offer some hilarious exchanges with our leads.

They Came Together is a crazy film, and it’s nonsensical on so many occasions, but for the most-part the jokes work, and it is a spin on a genre that tired a long time ago. It’s well written, though some of the jokes do fall flat at times (Judge Judy? Really?), and the cast really throw themselves, head-first, into it. Romantic-comedy is a genre that is ripe for the picking when it comes to things you can point to as being over-the-top and corny, and this film takes a good amount of them and, for lack of a better term, roasts them with banter and good-natured silliness in a way that is charming, enjoyable and in no way offensive.

Sometimes, in modern-comedy, there are lines crossed that make the film less “easy” to watch, there are shock tactics used to gain attention, but this doesn’t really do that. It’s just a good, old fashioned comedy flick that mocks, but without malice, a film genre that has been asking for a good ribbing for a while.

It isn’t going to break any walls down. It isn’t amazing, and sometimes I felt like the set-ups to the jokes were better than some of the punchlines, but I enjoyed my time with They Came Together. It’s a film you can put on when it’s raining outside, it’s the weekend, you want to eat noodles and settle in for the night on the sofa. Easy to watch, but nothing spectacular, yet still one of the better comedy films of this year so far, possibly due to the lack of good ones.

They Came Together is on limited release across the UK from Friday, Sept 5th.

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