Movie review: They Came Together
With the recent release of Obvious Child came a deliberate attempt to mix things up a bit with the tried, (tired) and tested rom-com genre.
Maybe its coincidence, or maybe it's the start of an incredible backlash against the rom-com as it stands (it's not), but hot on its heels here is yet another example of the rom-com with a twist.
At a restaurant, two couples are sitting down and having a meal. Kyle (Bill Hader) and Karen (Ellie Kemper) have just finished telling the story of how they met. Now they're interested to learn how Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) got together exactly. Not wishing to disappoint their friends, they begin from where many would say is the best place to tell such a tale: the beginning.
If anyone knows a thing or two about romantic comedies it's Paul Rudd; after all, he played Mike – Phoebe's boyfriend – in the last two seasons of Friends. Since then, he's appeared in a disturbing amount of rom-coms; if ever there's been a go to guy for the male lead in a rom-com, it's invariably been Rudd.
Having directed him in the charming Wanderlust, no one knows this better than David Wain. Where Obvious Child could be considered an anti-rom-com, They Came Together is an energetic parody. Imagine When Harry Met Sally bent over and being rodgered viciously from behind by Airplane!, then this film would be their illegitimate offspring.
It's not just the quality of the gags, but the quantity. It's a constant volley of them coming right at you; admittedly they're not all aces, but there are more than enough of them, both visual and written, to keep you grinning from ear to ear.
It could have easily started life as a sketch on Saturday Night Live, particularly when you consider alumnis Poehler and Hader involved, with its dead simple premise. Thanks to some tight directing though, the film maintains an intelligent pace throughout, with very few noticeable lulls.
You can't fault the two 'romantic' leads either; both Poehler and Rudd just get their characters completely and don't miss a beat between them throughout.
Although a loveable parody, there's also a chance that Wain was playfully de-constructing the genre, as if throwing up conventions usually found in them and just seeing how they land. To that end, the result is a delightfully silly homage, with laughs a plenty, that doesn't stop nudging and winking at its audience from beginning to end.
The irony is of course, that despite its constant digs at the genre its poking fun at, it could quite possibly be one of the most refreshing and enjoyable rom-coms in years. And if you happen to need a first date flick, this would be perfect.
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