They Came Together (2014) Directed by David Wain. With Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper.
Getting full value out of this spoof of US rom-coms begs a level of familiarity with the genre. As a film fan (and devoted boyfriend) I have endured my fair share of formulaic, by the numbers offerings that have furnished the career of anyone that’s appeared in Friends. So many of these films play as a tick-list of elements; regular Manhattan exteriors (where else is there to fall in love!?), people with impossibly great hair, the upbeat indie-pop soundtracks (complete with montage)…the list goes on.
Directed and co-written by David Wain, They Came Together (nod-wink) aims to subvert the genre by leaning into Airplane! territory – only a modern-day version of the style. Some have called it – too smart for its own good, in the sense that it will likely catch many off-guard with its increasingly zany humour and general ridiculousness, packaged in the guise of a sentimental star-vehicle. A glance at the poster (above) immediately prompts your brain to decide exactly what you’re about to see; a conventionally cute New York tale of romance, with attractive, smart people being smart and attractive…for 90-odd mins. Subtract the word ‘conventionally’ and your’e halfway right.
The attractive, smart leads in this case are Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler – both likeable regulars of US comedy film and TV. They continue their agreeable streak here, joyfully poking fun at the conventions that plague the rom-com. The days of the outright spoof of Airplane! and Hot Shots are long gone, but since those times, the world has watched as an epidemic of throwaway rom-com’s have littered the bargain-bins of second-hand DVD stores. Go on, do an e-Bay search for Jennifer Aniston/Lopez/Garner titles now – I guarantee you; 10p with free delivery.
This boils down to being a film made for a very specific taste. Chunks of it are utterly stupid, meaning some will sit stony-faced, deciding early on that it is too daft to laugh at/with. And it’s true that once the tone is set, the joke could easily wear thin. That said, it does have a fun supporting cast of talent like Bill Hader, Christopher Meloni (man of the match) and Ed Helms propping it up along with some surprisingly frank/weird, boundary-pushing sexual humour. If you like your comedy with strong measure of irreverence, this could work for you. 3/5