The newest offering from director/writer David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter, both members of comedy teams ‘The State’ and ‘Stella’, really came in under most peoples’ radars. This new project is called ‘They Came Together’.
Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) tell the story of how they met to friends over dinner. It contains adversity as he works for a candy corporation that threatens to overtake her small business. Add to that their conflicting personalities and you have romantic/comedic wackiness.
Wain’s film career started off with a classic-in-hindsight ‘Wet Hot American Summer’. From there his offerings vacillated between being largely unjustly ignored (‘The Ten’), extremely commercially successful (‘Role Models’) to the mixed bag (‘Wanderlust’). In short, his most recent film could have gone any number of directions. In terms of placing this in Wain’s canon, it lies somewhere in the middle of the pack.
The primary concern here is skewering the obviously formulaic nature of most romantic comedies. Nearly every convention you can think of is acknowledged and mocked, quite astutely. Granted, this is low-hanging fruit as most of us know that these movies are terrible and unimaginative, but there you go. Since it knowingly follows the formula so carefully, the story itself isn’t particularly compelling or interesting as we know how it is going to go and the film knows that we know.
On the extremely bright side, the film is more committed to being silly and absurd than we have seen from Wain in quite some time. Not all of the gags work, but comedy can be a numbers game where quantity inevitably yields quality. Whether you like this approach is entirely a matter of personal taste, but the rapid-fire nature of it is reminiscent of a ‘Naked Gun’ movie, if that tells you anything. Like those movies, this is also extremely brief in terms of runtime, much to its credit.
Rudd and Poehler are reliably appealing. The plethora of supporting characters is really where the surprises come from. Ellie Kemper and Bill Hader don’t have much to do but Jason Mantzoukas always elevates any scene he is in. Fellow ‘Stella’ figure, Michael Ian Black also adds a lot of fun conflict to the story. Keep an eye out for more familiar faces.
Special features include: deleted scenes, a table read, commentary, and a behind the scenes documentary.
It will ultimately be viewed as a minor offering, mostly due to the limited release and fanfare surrounding its release, but ‘They Came Together’ made this Examiner heartily laugh out loud. That isn’t something that happens every day.
Rated R 83 minutes 2014