Published Jun 26, 2014For anyone who's seen a lot of romantic comedies, David Wain's They Came Together is more than parody — it's a public service. By thoroughly skewering all the conventions and tropes that re-appear so often in the genre, the film just may force screenwriters to come up with new ways to tell love stories. It helps that it's also gleefully silly and irreverent, committing to its inanity with such zeal that it practically dares you not to laugh.
At dinner with two friends (Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper), Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) recount how they fell in love with each other against the backdrop of New York City. In flashbacks, we see them meet in suitably adorable fashion when they bump into each other on Halloween while carrying large grocery bags full of fruit. They hate each other at first, naturally, but soon find themselves bonding over their love of fiction and through Joel's ability to remember Molly's complicated muffin order.
Molly owns and operates a not-for-profit candy store that her accountant (Ed Helms) equates to financial breast cancer, while Joel works for a candy corporation that has their sights set on putting her out of business with a new superstore across the street. They both have recognizably wacky friends and parents that help them work through the ups and downs of their rollercoaster relationship.
The story is little more than a hodgepodge of clichés to serve as a clothesline on which to hang a series of skits. Poehler and Rudd are perfectly game to indulge in all of the goofy lunacy that ensues, and make some bits work that would surely die in lesser hands. They're supported by an assembly of some of the finest comedic actors working right now, including Michael Ian Black being perfectly cast as Joe's slime-ball co-worker who stole his ex-girlfriend (Cobie Smulders).
Working from a screenplay that he co-wrote with fellow The State alum and collaborator on cult hit Wet Hot American Summer, Michael Showalter (who delved into lampooning rom-coms earlier in his career with The Baxter), Wain continues to establish himself as one of the more offbeat comedy directors working today. The humour he brings to this and films like Role Models and Wanderlust can be smart and subtle while still never being above the broad or truly bizarre joke. It's not that his approach always works, as there are some gags here that either confound or fall flat, but you're always left anticipating what he's going to try next.