Review: They Came Together
REVIEW: After years spent directing mainstream Hollywood films (ROLE MODELS and WANDERLUST) David Wain returns to his indie comedy roots with THEY CAME TOGETHER, a film that re-teams him with many people from his cult comedy hit WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, including most of the cast and co-writer Michael Showalter.
A loving spoof of romantic comedies, THEY CAME TOGETHER feels like the kind of movie we would have gotten had Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker (in their prime) or Mel Brooks taken aim at the genre. Strongly patterned on the 1998 Tom Hanks- Meg Ryan rom-com YOU GOT MAIL (itself a remake of Ernst Lubitsch's seminal rom-com THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER) THEY CAME TOGETHER feels like it was made by people that have some real affection for the genre rather than contempt. Maybe this is due to the fact that leading man Paul Rudd- a favorite of Wain's- has made a number of straight-up rom-coms himself. His casting- along with Amy Poehler- gives the film a bit of a transgressive bent as it's not too much of a stretch to imagine them paired up by a studio in a legitimate entry into the genre. As such, this will likely pull in the rom-com crowd that might be expecting another ADMISSION, giving them a big old surprise.
The film is framed- as are so many of these films- with the main couple telling friends (here played by Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper) how the two met and fell in love. All the genre hallmarks are thoroughly exploited here- to hilarious effect- with a ludicrous “meet-cute” as well as duplicitous significant others (Cobie Smulders for Rudd and Ed Helms for Poehler), the irresponsible sibling, the sassy ethnic best friends, and more. If you're a fan of WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, you'll be pleased to know that some of the absurdest humor that made that film such a cult item works its way into here, with Christopher Meloni (as Rudd's money-grubbing CEO boss who wants to take over Poehler's indie candy store) having a long, hilarious sequence involving a superhero costume and a trip to the bathroom that would have been right at home in the earlier film.
Of course, not everyone will “get” THEY CAME TOGETHER. Spoofing films that are already comedies in the first place means that a lot of the jokes are deliberately bad, which may be lost on some viewers. It's also not a stretch to think that the audience that's pulled in thinking this is just another rom-com may not always get that it's a satire and meant to be tacky, although one hopes that by the time one famous indie actor -who's known for playing thugs- turns up poking fun at himself everyone will be in on the joke.
THEY CAME TOGETHER isn't quite on par with WET HOT, but then again what is? With the jokes coming at you literally non-stop, the occasional joke that falls flat won't really matter, as there are so many that hit their target dead on (especially a cheesy “promo for the soundtrack” clip inserted into a romantic interlude) that you'll be laughing consistently throughout. Let's put it this way, if you get the double-entendre of the title and you think it's funny, this is for you. If not, then you might want to wait for one Rudd's more mainstream comedies. Is THEY CAME TOGETHER juvenile and absurd? Yes it is, but that's kind of the whole point. If you're a fan of THE STATE-era David Wain and Michael Showalter or STELLA, you'll love it.