THEY CAME TOGETHER
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
Paul Rudd as JOEL
Amy Poehler as MOLLY
Cobie Smulders as TIFFANY
Christopher Meloni as ROLAND
Max Greenfield as JAKE
Bill Hader as KYLE
Ellie Kemper as KAREN
Jason Mantzoukas as BOB
Melanie Lynskey as BRENDA
Ed Helms as EGGBERT
Michael Ian Black as TREVOR
Directed by: David Wain
BY KEVIN CARR
I remember watching “They Came Together” in the theaters this summer, and after it was over, I sighed. It’s not that I didn’t like the movie. Quite the opposite, in fact. I thought it was a hilarious send-up of the romantic comedy genre.
No, I was a little sad after the credits rolled on “They Came Together” because I feared it would not do very well at the box office. Even though it was pretty much tailor-made for people who both love or hate the rom com genre, it was just a bit too off-kilter to connect with a wide audience.
But that hasn’t stopped me from recommending it to as many people as I can.
I even made a point to show the Blu-ray to my wife, who is a confirmed rom com junkie. Some of her favorite movies include “Pretty Woman,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “When Harry Met Sally.” Watching her watch this movie confirmed what I thought, which is that most people who enjoyed that genre would like it because while it makes fun of romantic comedies, it doesn’t do it in a mean-spirited way.
“They Came Together” was a challenge to market, and evidenced by the lackluster key images on the poster and cover box, it’s clear the studio did not know exactly what to do with it. The title itself (as well as the tag line “He came… She came… They both came”) was clearly a raunchy joke that likely got past the censors because they are too square to actually get it. Still, I’m not necessarily blaming the studio because I cannot imagine how you could have effectively marketed this movie, which is in essence an “Airplane!”-style send-up of the genre.
The story takes place as a flashback in which Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) are telling the story of how they met to friends at dinner. Taking nods from “You’ve Got Mail,” Joel is a corporate drone working for a big candy company, which is trying to force all independent candy stores out of business. Molly runs one of these candy stores, which results in romantic tension between her and Joel when they start a whirlwind romance.
Infused into this rather standard rom com storyline are esoteric jokes, dozens of clever sight gags, plot points that riff off most cliches of the genre and raunchy humor that will remind the viewer that this was put together by the same team that did “We Hot American Summer.”
In a weird way, what makes this film stand out from most other “safe” spoofs is part of what made it hard to market. The raunchiness and ribald humor – sometimes pretty shocking and involving everything from feces to incest – will likely turn off the romantic comedy crowd. They’ll laugh at all the jokes of the genre, but the particularly crass nature of the humor at times might be a bit much for them. (I tend to think this fan base can look past that, but the well-deserved R rating might throw up a few red flags for them.)
Still, without this humor, many of the funniest moments in the film would be lost. It’s because of this that I am at least glad that “They Came Together” had as small of a budget as it did, allowing it to be what director David Wain and his writing partner Michael Showalter initially envisioned.
Ultimately, “They Came Together” is unlike any other film you’ll likely see this year. It nails the romantic comedy spoof perfectly, to the point that even if you hate rom coms you can still enjoy it for its skewering of them. It’s breezy and funny with fantastic comedic performances throughout.
Don’t let this movie scare you. Give it a chance, would you?
The Blu-ray comes with some decent special features, including an audio commentary with Wain and Showalter. There’s also a 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette “They All Came Together,” as well as the original San Francisco Sketchfest Table Read. Things round out with the theatrical trailer and a nice slate of pretty humorous deleted scenes.