THEY CAME TOGETHER (2014)
reviewed by Jessica Elliott
That is too funny!"
- Molly to Joel
Sporadically clever, delightful, funny, tired gags, underused actors
Paul Rudd + Amy Poehler pairing
Long list of comedy cameos,
Lack of innovation
WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT
Molly (Poehler) plays the klutz, fun-loving girl who befriends Joel, the corporate professional, albeit vulnerable, leading man (Rudd) who is, as the movie puts it, “just jewish enough.” The movie follows the predictable rom-com storyline: meet each other, hate each other, but misjudged each other so now they like each other only to inevitably break-up and date other people, but realize they really do love each other, aaaaand they’re back together again. A couple of montages are found in the mix, too. They Come Together would not meet the rom-com criteria without sage advice from their basketball playing friends, supportive best friend and disapproving older sister, kooky co-worker (yay Rafi!) and “aw shucks” younger brother. It is the perfect round up of the rom-com supporting cast to fill out the romantic comedy genre requirement.
WHAT THE MOVIE IS REALLY ABOUT
They Came Together parodies the romantic comedy genre with Poehler and Rudd leading the charge and directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models). The movie begins with Molly and Joel at dinner with their friends played by Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper (grossly underused and extremely funny) who ask how they met. From there, the entire movie is a flashback, cutting back to the dinner table for a few laughs and reinforcement of the parody for the viewer. The movie begins like a Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie, introducing each character in a day of their life. Molly owns a cute candy shop named Upper Sweet Side whose existence is threatened by the evil corporation, Candy Systems & Research. This, of course, is where Joel is employed. They meet at a Halloween party thrown by mutual friends. Instead of hitting it off, like their friends hoped, they despise each other especially after Molly finds out where Joel works. Clichéd phrases are said, Molly throws water in Joel’s face in an effort to show her disgust, and they pretty much hate each other. This is also where we are forced to watch a useless scene with Christopher Meloni and a bathroom incident. Molly and Joel meet again, this time at a bookstore where their interest in one other begins to grow over a common love of fiction books.
The rest of the movie continues on as you would expect – the looming threat of their relationship pulled apart because of their jobs, Joel’s ex-girlfriend testing their love (played by Cobie Smulders), the inevitable jealously of one moving on with their life before the other, etc. This movie begins strong, with clever moments producing genuine laughter, but it very quickly fell flat. Yes, I understand this is a parody movie. Yes, I know that means its purpose is to poke fun. I love me a good romantic comedy – and to have it parodied? That’s moth to a flame-like love! However, in an age where parody movies are quite normal (which Scary Movie number are we on, now?), this one was no different and I so wanted it to be. I was excited to see this cast, which can only be described as Poehler and Rudd’s personal contacts, but I was hoping for a spin on the tired parody approach, or at least done in a smarter way. I firmly believe if this film had been made a good five years ago or so, I would have liked it a lot more. Perhaps the movie, as it is now, would have felt fresh and new. At this point, we are familiar with the Poehler and Rudd “-isms” and although good for a chuckle here and there, it felt like the go-to for both of them. It seemed like the movie rested on its cast and a few solid jokes to carry it through to the end. Instead, coupled with questionable scenes such as Joel meeting Molly’s parents for the first time, the bizarre and endless bar scene with Joel, and the last 5 – 10 minutes, the 83 minutes of running time felt like an eternity. It felt like a sketch or joke gone way too long and you just want it to stop.
Although I genuinely enjoyed only a third of the film, I did feel like I was reunited with old friends. Each cameo made me laugh with excitement (John Stamos?!) and there are a few scenes peppered within the movie that do work. I just wish they had been able to sustain that momentum for the duration rather than overkilling each joke in the process. They Came Together had the potential to be much smarter in achieving the parody of the rom-com genre but just felt lazy.
2 out of 4