Take a Drink: for each spoof of romantic comedies
Take a Drink: whenever Paul Rudd makes a funny facial expression
Do a Shot: for each celebrity cameo
Do a Shot: during the bar scene; you can say that again.
By: Matt Conway (Three Beers) –
Parody is dead, at least in films these days. A once great genre in film, some of the best parodies like Airplane, Naked Gun, and Young Frankenstein are well-known and regarded as some of the best comedies around. With the titans of the genre, Mel Brooks and The Zucker Brothers, not making spoof films anymore, the genre has taken a clear nosedive. First there were Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer’s awful efforts with Meet the Spartans, Epic Movie, and worst of all, Disaster Movie. Now, Marlon Wayans continues the terrible spoof tradition with A Haunted House and A Haunted House 2.
When They Came Together was announced, I began to anticipate this film as the potential comeback for the spoof genre. With the talented writer/director David Wain behind the camera teamed with an all star cast featuring the likes of Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, quite a bit of promise was there for They Came Together to be really good. While there are still a few mishaps, They Came Together is a solid entry in the spoof genre.
Joel is a worker at a big corporate candy company, while Molly runs a quirky little candy shop. The two could not be more different, but somehow they fall in love.
One of the most important elements of a comedy is the cast, and the cast here is game. Film fans would be hard-pressed to find a more charming lead than Paul Rudd, who instantly brings a natural affability to any role he is in. Co-starring with him is Amy Poehler, who also shares a lot of the same great comedic qualties as Rudd. Both together share a great chemistry, and made honestly made me want to see them together in more of a straight-on romantic comedy film after this.
Surrounding the two great leads is one of the biggest and best supporting casts a comedy could have, with there being so many great comedic talents. Cobie Smulders, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Ken Marino, Jack McBrayer, Jason Mantzoukas, and so many more. The best part about getting such a big cast like this is that all of these members of the cast are able to get a couple of big laughs. Not only that, but there are a lot of surprise cameos that really get some of the film’s biggest laughs.
What makes They Came Together stand out from other romantic comedies is its screenplay. Both Michael Showalter and David Wain have shown their ability to spoof a genre before with the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer, and do a similar service for this film. While Wet Hot American Summer skewed 80’s comedies like Meatballs, They Came Together is essentially a large spoof of the romantic comedy genre.
Perhaps why They Came Together works is because how dedicated this script is to its mission of skewing the romantic comedy genre. Wain’s script keeps the jokes moving at a mile a minute, and keeps a consistently earnest tone about what it’s spoofing. With there being so many jokes, quite a few of them really hit, and address a lot of the terrible aspects of romantic comedies that all of us are sick of.
With there being so many jokes, it seems like quite a few of the jokes in the film missed the mark. The script here creates some clever gags, but also a few that are a bit too on the nose. Some of these moments feel more like recognition of a bad aspect in romantic comedies, rather than an actual joke spoofing romantic comedies. If you throw in so many jokes, some of them are bound to not work.
However, a lot of the jokes in the film are spread sporadically throughout the film. Throughout this film’s 80 minute running time, there are several dead spots where there are either not a lot of jokes going on or the jokes are just not hitting. For there to be dead spots in a film this short is a sign that perhaps this would have worked better as a short, rather than a feature film.
A problem that a lot of spoof films have is that they end up doing a lot of what the genre they are spoofing does, and that is the case with They Came Together. Sure, by going through the motions, it’s spoofing that these are the motions of a romantic comedy, but these moments did not really pack many big laughs. That left a lot of these moments just feeling like scenes in a romantic comedy itself.
In a lot of ways, They Came Together represents my general feelings on most of David Wain’s work. The film is often times sporadic, and has its fair share of misses in the joke department. At the same time, They Came Together has a charm that is undeniable, thanks in large part to some clever jokes and a cast that really brings their A-game.