Friday, June 27, 2014

Movie review: They Came Together doesn't come together

They Came Together,” a spoof of romantic-comedy conventions, is a one-joke movie, but it's a joke told well, by people who know how. Movie review: 'They Came Together' here.

They Came Together

In Movie Theaters: Friday, June 27, 2014 Limited

Director: David Wain


Amy Poehler . . . Molly
Paul Rudd . . . Joel
Cobie Smulders . . . Tiffany
Christopher Meloni . . . Roland
Max Greenfield . . . Jake
Bill Hader . . . Kyle

Companies: Lionsgate Films


They Came Together begins with the kind of smarmy self-awareness that is more self-serving than humorous. On a night out with another couple (Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper), Molly (Amy Poehler) and Joel (Paul Rudd) recount the story of how they got together. The pair preface their tale by defining themselves as typical rom-com characters: he “vaguely but non-threateningly Jewish,” she a hopeless klutz. For the first act or so of the film, most of the dialogue foregrounds generic tropes with a wink, like the thin connection between Molly as a local candy shop owner meeting Joel, high-ranking member of a candy conglomerate hell-bent on establishing a total monopoly.

The non-threateningly attractive, amiable Paul Rudd is an easy guy to like. Maybe even to fall in love with…unless he’s a corporate drone working for the ultra-behemoth conglomerate that’s about to put your quirky, independent candy store out of business! Then he’s just a dreamy boy you could fall in love with but you won’t, damn it! You just won’t!

Director David Wain likes him, though. He likes him well enough to cast him as the lead in every single one of his films, including his latest, They Came Together.

For the provocatively titled newest effort, Wain collaborates with co-writer Michael Showalter, who helped him pen another Rudd vehicle, the cultish gem Wet Hot American Summer. Where that film lampooned summer camp films, the latest effort sends up New York City rom/coms.

Both films are endearingly silly, insightful, packed with genuine talent, and loaded with laughs. Rudd is joined this time around by reliably funny Amy Poehler as maybe the love of his life, if they can get past that candy store thing and a couple dozen other hurdles.

Wain is not just after the big, obvious genre clichés, either – though not one is safe. He’s equally adept at uncovering small, overlooked crutches of the romantic comedy and skewering those, as well. So what went so wrong?

Nothing feels fresh, for starters. So many films have poked fun at romantic comedy clichés that the satire is stale. The humor is broad when it needs to be, targeted at times, and often very funny, but utterly and immediately forgettable.

Just as problematic is that the 83 minute running time feels bloated. Jokes are repeated so incessantly that they lose potency, and Wain’s film has trouble mocking the tired and familiar without feeling a little spent itself. It plays like extended sketch comedy, some of which is spot-on, though too much of it is filler.

With laughs to be had, sight gags galore, priceless cameos, an enviable cast and a quick run time, it’s hardly the worst way to spend a little time in the air conditioning. You know, since Wet Hot American Summer doesn’t stream on Netflix.

See the movie trailer here:

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