A dinner date turns into a recounting of how two opposites fell in love.
Directed by David Wain
Starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler
Review by Jon Kissel
Wain's trod this ground before with Wet Hot American Summer, his spoof of camp movies. They Came Together lacks the full-on insanity of that film, but it still has its share of laughs. Romantic comedies are predictable enough that the jokes can be seen coming, but the delivery carries them through. Every trope possible is stuffed in. Joel's an uptight guy because his parents died young, and has a regular pick-up game going with his friend group. Molly has a moppet of a son who she shares one scene with, and a Black best friend with no internal life who only lives for her. They share a Norah Jones-scored montage in which New York City is another character, with all its leaf piles and fruit stands. The first time they have sex is so passionate, they knock a lot of lamps over, though the act itself isn't included because Molly's a good girl. When Joel hooks back up with his ex, all manner of acrobatic positions are shown in shadow. Everything is recognizable, culminating in an ending that stretches past the point most romantic comedies conclude to show that Joel's coffee shop is a bust and he and Molly are in fact terrible for each other.
The jokes are taken further both by Wain and Showalter's script, and the actors, many of whom have been working together for years. Rudd and Poehler are able leads, Rudd turning in his affable just-Jewish-enough performance and Poehler utilizing her knack for physical comedy. The supporting cast is stuffed with State players and veterans of Wain's other work. Chris Meloni stands out as Joel's boss, and is given an entire subplot involving a skintight costume and a bathroom break that is treated pretty seriously for an 83-minute film. Ken Marino is hilarious as one of the basketball players, and Ed Helms, as accountant Eggbert Flaps, gets a very strange moment, also involving a bathroom. Maria Hill shares a very game sex montage with Paul Rudd, in the vein of Team America. A late cameo by Michael Shannon is absolutely perfect.
They Came Together contains a lot to recommend it. I prefer Wain when he's making a straightforward narrative like in Role Models or Wanderlust, but he and his team know how to make fun of stuff. The biggest shortcoming is that a movie this committed to deconstruction has no room for reality and therefore is reduced to little more than a long skit. Within that limiting framework, They Came Together succeeds in earning laughs but inevitably wears out its welcome around the second extended loop gag. Still, it's worth suffering through the slow parts for that cameo. B-