They Came Together (R) ★★½

Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star in "They Came Together." Photo Credit: Lionsgate
Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star in “They Came Together.” Photo Credit: Lionsgate

The Comedy About Romantic Comedies

Everyone recognizes the classic clichés in romantic comedies whether it be a meet-cute or an opposites attract scenario. There is likely a token best friend and the protagonist is probably with the wrong person for a period of time. It will take a grand gesture or a wedding day to finally reunite our star couple.

In honor of this genre, the writers and directors of Wet Hot American Summer (2001) David Wain and Michael Showalter, are back with another comedy spoof, They Came Together, starring veteran comedic actors Paul Rudd (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, 2013) and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation, 2009-2014).

If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail (1998) or When Harry Met Sally (1989) and understand that They Came Together is a parody of rom-coms, then you are well equipped for what’s ahead.

The film opens to Molly and Joel dining with friends Kyle (Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins, 2014) and Karen (Ellie Kemper, The Office, 2009-2013) as they recount the first time they met and continue along throughout the entire film explaining their relationship. As they compare their relationship to a romantic comedy, we watch as a slew of the genre’s assorted stereotypes unfold.

Molly (Poehler) is an endearing klutz who owns a boutique candy shop in New York. Joel (Rudd) is a straight-arrowed, clever executive who has just been dumped by his distant girlfriend, Tiffany (Cobie Smulders, How I Met Your Mother, 2005-2014), and works for a mega candy company up the street that’s about to put Molly’s store out of business. As luck would have it, after bumping into each other at a mutual friends costume party (ironically both dressed as Ben Franklin), Molly and Joel start dating.

When described, the idea for this film sounds hilarious and clever, but just like romantic comedies, this film gets repetitive. It pokes fun at the tired tropes of rom-coms and then ridicules them over and over. They Came Together simply restoring to what we know to be trite and comfortable doesn’t automatically make it hilarious or revolutionary. There needs to be a twist, a modern aspect, or a new, integrated story that gives the film that distinctive factor.

There is a scene where Joel goes into a bar and drinks his misery away after his awful breakup with Tiffany. The bartender mentions that Joel looks terrible and every time Joel says, “Tell me about it” or “You can say that again,” the bartender says the same thing, again and again and again. This line was repeated numerous times, but audiences got the idea after the second round of playing parrot.

The film has an appropriate run time of 83 minutes, which some viewers may even deem too long. In fact, the most notable, comical scenes could have made into great short sketches.

Rudd and Poehler are amusing together, but this film wouldn’t have been complete without it’s supporting cast and classic cameos. Hader and Kemper were definitely underused. However, it should be noted that their scenes were later added to the original script to give it more structure as audience members learned straight from David Wain at this years’ Chicago Critics Film Festival. Ed Helms (We’re the Millers, 2013) and Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel, 2013) also didn’t get enough face time. Both stolescenes whenever on screen.

Although the unique idea to spoof the rom-com formula doesn’t fully deliver, it’s hard to hate this film due to the likable comedic cast.

Bottom-Line?  Rudd, Poehler and Wet Hot American Summer fans will be amused, but they won’t catch any curveballs. This film stays safe and doesn’t hit it beyond the ballpark.

Cast: Paul Rudd (Joel), Ed Helms (Eggbert), Amy Poehler (Molly), Cobie Smulders (Tiffany), Max Greenfield (Jake), Christopher Meloni (Roland), Ellie Kemper (Karen), Bill Hader (Kyle)

Credits: Directed by David Wain; Written by Michael Showalter, David Wain

Studio: Lionsgate

Run Time: 83 minutes

Jessica Aymond © June 28, 2014