Anytime I look at the “specs” of a film prior to viewing and see that the running time is less than 90 minutes, unless it is a documentary, I get nervous. While not always true, usually the shorter running time is an indicator the film will disappoint. Fortunately for the 83 minute movie They Came Together, that wasn’t the case.
Writer/director David Wain has been hit (Wet Hot American Summer) and miss (Wanderlust) and with this film he’s closer to the former than the latter. This send-up of the rom-com genre aims for ten laughs a minute and gets an average of six or seven. The film opens with two well-dressed couples enjoying an upscale dining experience. “Joel” (Rudd) and “Molly” (Poehler) are regaling “Kyle” (Hader) and “Karen” (Kemper) with the tale of how they first met.
Amy owns and operates a tiny candy shop while Joel works for Candy Systems and Research (CSR) a company that owns and operates mega candy stores. But You’ve Got Mail isn’t the only rom-com being sent up here with wicked (some) humor. Jerry Maguire, Along Came Polly and Notting Hill are just a few of the genre’s film being spoofed here.
Turns out Joel and Amy first met at a Halloween party, brought together by the host couple. Joel just found his girlfriend “Tiffany” (Smulders) in bed with a co-worker of his while “Molly” is just worried over the CSR store putting her out of business. Halloween is a great opportunity to use costumes to cause laughs and Wain takes full advantage. The hilarity runs from there as Joel and Molly fall in and out of love with each other and others.
Spoofs can be incredibly brilliant (Blazing Saddles and Airplane come to mind) or amazingly awful (Date Movie and Disaster Movie are among the worst of this group). They Came Together is neither brilliant nor awful. The performers make up for the occasion comedy misfire as they are all veteran comedy actors. Yes some of the jokes are recycled but are there really that many original jokes left to write?
I didn’t check to see if David Wain has made a film that Paul Rudd didn’t have a speaking role in, but I highly doubt it. Casting him opposite Amy Poehler was a strong choice as they have nice chemistry. While many think of Chris Meloni only as the anger-management challenged detective from TV’s “SVU,” he’s an old hand at garnering laughs.
As always, the true test of a comedy is how much it makes you laugh. You’ll get your money’s worth of laughter from They Came Together.