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Review: They Came Together

Who doesn’t love a double entendre? If anybody were going to make a film with the title They Came Together, it would certainly be director David Wain.

When one thinks of parodies, some of the filmmakers that come to mind include Mel Brooks, David Zucker, or the horrifically terrible films of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. For the most part, none of the aforementioned filmmakers have made a decent parody for quite some time. Hell, Friedberg and Seltzer haven’t made anything decent in their entire careers. David Wain parodied the sex-romp comedies of the ‘80s as well as summer camp films in his comedy Wet Hot American Summer. He now returns to parody romantic-comedies, specifically those of the late Nora Ephron, in They Came Together.

Paul Rudd and Amy Pohler star as Joel and Molly, two very different people who, after much hesitation, end up in a relationship. While on a double date with their friends Karen and Kyle (Ellie Kemper and Bill Hader), they are asked to tell the story of how they came to fall in love; both with each other and with the city of New York, which the pair constantly remind us is itself a character in their love story. In the vein of You’ve Got Mail, Molly owns a small candy store that donates all its proceeds to charity. Joel works for the large corporate company Candy Research Systems, who want to run Molly’s shop out of business. The two meet at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, where they both come dressed as Benjamin Franklin. While they initially do not get along, the two later learn that they have a lot more in common than they initially thought, such as their shared love for fiction books. While it manages to follow all the classic rom-com clichés, their crazy love story is in a way unlike any we have ever seen before.

The film is a welcome return to form for director David Wain, who until now hasn’t really made anything worth mentioning for the past decade. At just 83 minutes, They Came Together is clever, witty, and to the point. Rudd and Pohler are great as Joel and Molly but the two have barely any romantic chemistry. Wain was certainly aware of this when making the film, and exploits it to the nth degree to make some of the film’s funniest scenes. Even as a parody, the film ends up using all the clichés it’s making fun of, and in this case they seem to be working just fine.

It’s a little bit difficult to understand what Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter are trying to say about the state of romantic comedies today. While they are constantly poking fun at them throughout the film, at times viewers may get the sense that the pair has a certain affinity for the genre.

Some of the film’s jokes fall flat but for the most part they are spot on. There are others that are just slightly confusing, such a scene where Joel’s boss Roland (Christopher Meloni) defecates while wearing his Superman costume. Is Wain giving in to cheap toilet humour? Or is he simply acknowledging the toilet humor we unfortunately see in most rom-coms these days?

While They Came Together is opening to a mixed reception, it is sure to garner a cult following as Wet Hot American Summer did before it; and a well deserved one indeed.

[star v=4]

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.