They Came Together
dir David Wain
prd Michael Showalter
scr Michael Showalter, David Wain
with Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Ed Helms, Lynn Cohen, Teyonah Parris, Noureen DeWulf, Michael Ian Black, Jack McBrayer
release US 27.Jun.14, UK 5.Sep.14
14/US 1h23
They Came Together
An autumn stroll: Rudd and Poehler

hader smulders meloni
sundancelondon film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
They Came Together A goofy spoof of romantic-comedies, this film sets itself a pretty tricky target, since rom-coms are pretty corny themselves. But cowriters Wain and Showalter and their up-for-it cast charge on regardless, wringing a lot of laughs from the material. Frustratingly, the hilarious rom-com they create isn't actually very involving.

The story plays out in flashback as Joel and Molly (Rudd and Poehler) recount their movie-like romance to friends (Hader and Kemper) over dinner. Of course, New York is another character in their story, in which she runs a charming candy shop and he's a "not too handsome or too Jewish" corporate raider. From a meet-cute to an energetic first sexual encounter, their relationship goes through giddy highs and emotional lows ("Your dreams don't pay for the rent!"). And it plays out like a series of heightened cinematic set-pieces.

There isn't a single movie cliche left out, from every concievable montage sequences to a series of best pals (Mantzoukas, Lynskey), relatives (Greenfield, Cohen), coworkers (Meloni, Parris) and exes (Smulders, Morgan) who are involved a variety of improbable breakups and reunions. From outrageous idiocy to slathered-on sappiness, there isn't a moment wasted. The riotously obvious script is packed with silly details and surreal jokes, performed impeccably by the sprawling ensemble cast.

With lesser actors, this relentless nonsense could have turned out like a painful cross between Mel Brooks and Zucker-Abrams-Zucker, but Rudd and Poehler add the necessary zing to hold our interest and keep us laughing at the dense onslaught of visual and verbal gags, as well as a string of every expected plot twist imaginable. There's also a nonstop flow of amusing cameos from the starry likes of Adam Scott, John Stamos, Michael Shannon and Norah Jones. So even if it feels trite and predictable, it's never dull.

It's also a clever take on how we see life as if it's a movie (is yours a comedy or tearjerker?) punctuated by holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. So the endless camera-winking has some resonance. But in the end, the zany joke feels like it's stretched far too long. Wain and Showalter seem happy to make movie that's simply ridiculous and very funny, which it is. If it was also genuinely charming, it might have been a classic.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, violence 27.Apr.14 slf

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