Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd star in the zany They Came Together, a romantic-comedy parody where, of course, “New York is like a third character.” The film was made by the same writer/director team, David Wain and Michael Showalter,that created Wet Hot American Summer and features many of the same actors,yet it doesn’t quite reach its potential.
Gleefully skewering cliché after cliché, the film loosely follows the plot of You’ve Got Mail, with Molly (Poehler) owning a cute, candy shop that Joel’s (Rudd) corporate mega-store threatens to put out of business, but then goes on to parody the genre more broadly. The plot is predictable and that is the point. There is the initial ‘hate-at-first-sight’, which blossoms into love, then the obstacle of a misunderstanding, which is overcome with a last-minute wedding interruption and grand speech.
The cast is expansive and top-notch; from the free-loading younger brother (played by New Girl’s charming Max Greenfield), to the manipulative ex-girlfriend (How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders) and the inappropriate love interest (played by The Office’s Ed Helms). Even Ellie Kemper and Bill Hader appear, as the bored couple listening to Joel and Molly tell their endless story.
They Came Together is full of laughs and familiar moments. Some of the gags are perhaps a little clumsy, for example, the waiter who literally has a pole up his butt. However, others are fantastically on point, like the sun-hued ‘falling in love’ sequence, the nod to ridiculous ‘trying on clothes’ montages and when Joel and Molly wreck an apartment in a particularly passionate make-out session. Another classic moment is the showcased Norah Jones song, complete with a video of Poehler and Rudd supposedly visiting the studio.
It is an enjoyable, breezy ride with an all-round endearing and game cast, but for all its cheer and humour it somehow falls just a little short of what it could be. The film veers to silliness in moments when it could have really critiqued the genre. The characters are also somewhat shallowly defined, which does not give the stellar comedic cast much to work with. In the end They Came Together feels a little long and repetitive, perhaps like the very cliché romantic comedy it intends to spoof.
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
They Came Together is out on DVD and iTunes on September 24th.