They Came Together

Can’t be any worse than Date Movie. Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni and Ed Helms star in They Came Together.

They Came TogetherCast of Characters:
Joel – Paul Rudd
Molly – Amy Poehler
Tiffany – Cobie Smulders
Roland – Christopher Meloni
Jake – Max Greenfield
Kyle – Bill Hader
Karen – Ellie Kemper
Bob – Jason Mantzoukas
Brenda – Melanie Lynskey
Eggbert – Ed Helms

Director – David Wain
Screenplay – Michael Showalter & David Wain
Producer – Michael Showalter
Rated R for language and sexual content

Joel (Paul Rudd) is an exec for a big corporate candy company. Molly (Amy Poehler) runs a quirky little candy shop of her own that Joel’s company wants to shut down. After Joel’s girlfriend Tiffany (Cobie Smulders) cheats on him, his friend and co-worker Bob (Jason Mantzoukas) and his wife Brenda (Melanie Lynskey) – Molly’s friend – are gonna set Joel and Molly up together at their costume party. However, after a horrible first impression with each other, it’s hate at first sight.

Amazingly, though, they take a liking to each other and eventually fall in love. Of course, what follows is the eventual break up, the ex-girlfriend rebound and then the last-minute running back to each other.

I believe chick flicks to be the scourge of cinema, but when I first heard of the highly suggestive They Came Together – a parody of chick flicks – I wasn’t entirely on board at first. See, they tried to a rom-com spoof before. It was called Date Movie and it sucked. That said, this isn’t Date Movie, nor is it made by the guys who created Dated Movie.

Thank God.

Here, we get the “meet-cute”. You know, where the two leads meet for the first time and they immediately can’t stand the sight of each other, and the situation’s made even worse when she finds out his company’s after hers, or she’s competing against him for that big account, or they’re put together by the boss on a project. Then they’re practically in love by the next time they meet.

Or there’s the eclectic team of friends the male lead has that get together for a pickup game of basketball and talk about relationships while they do so (Along Came Polly, Made of Honor). Of course, the friends are made up of the perpetually single guy that just wants to get laid, the sensitive caring guy, the committed married man and the male lead’s best friend, with the male lead representing all of their respective characteristics.

And how can we forget the ex-girlfriend who comes back to her former love to rebound with him, but the new girlfriend shows up at the wrong place and wrong time and there’s this gigantic misunderstanding, and everyone’s sad, which leads to a heartfelt song playing in the background. Or the climatic last-minute dash to claim his true love before she gets away (at the altar during the wedding or airport terminals are the destinations of choice).

Brought to you by co-writer/director David Wain and writer Michael Showalter – two of the three members of the comedy troupe Stella (third member Michael Ian Black costars here) – They Came Together isn’t spoofing a specific chick flick (parallels to You’ve Got Mail are noticeable though), but is more a lampooning of the genre as a whole. As always, with any type of spoof, certain jokes stick more than others. Some jokes here play up the fact that they’re parodying a chick flick trope a bit more obviously than they need to be, but Wain and Showalter’s script is, more often than not, smarter than it appears, and Wain captures the tone and formula of the chick flick, with all their tropes and contrivances, just right.

One of the better moments within the film comes from a hipster music video parody (the obligatory mid-film song montage with the couple acting cute together) that took a few unexpected yet effective turns with where it went and the cameos that popped up.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that They Came Together could be the best chick flick I’ve ever seen. That says more about the other films, though, than this one.

Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler are two of the most charming comedic presences that we have today. Rudd has a sly wit to him where he can pull off these types of roles in his sleep, and Poehler has an instant likeability that fits comfortably into the cute clutz role, and is able to do so while winking at the camera. Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper have great comedic timing together opposite Rudd and Poehler. Christopher Meloni, Cobie Smulders, Ed Helms and Michael Ian Black also turn in some dependable laughs as the various rom-com caricatures they’re portraying, and there are two funny cameos toward the end that you’d never expect to appear in a film like this.

They Came Together isn’t Airplane! or The Naked Gun series by any means, but considering how horrible the spoof genre has been for more than 10 years, it’s a definite upgrade over what we’ve been getting. Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler have solid chemistry together, and although David Wain and Michael Showalter’s style of absurd (ranging from subtle to flat out obvious) comedy is not for everyone, and not all the jokes work, Wain’s “deliberately terrible romantic comedy” still comes with laughs a-plenty.

Good luck to all the serious chick flicks following this with a straight face.

I give They Came Together a B (★★★).

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