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Monday, June 23, 2014


Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) in THEY CAME TOGETHER
Courtesy of Lionsgate
2014, 83 minutes
Rated R for language and sexual content

Review by Joshua Handler

They Came Together premiered at Sundance back in January and has had relatively little buzz around it since...which is a complete shame because it made me laugh so hard I cried.  This is no exaggeration.  It even has high rewatch value.  I've now seen They Came Together twice and laughed throughout the entire film twice.  How this movie is getting so little attention attention is mind-blowing to me. The film is headed up by Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd and features a supporting cast that includes Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms, Melanie Lynskey, Kenan Thompson, and more.

With They Came Together, director David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer, Role Models) satirizes the romantic comedy by making as cliché-ridded a romantic comedy as he can.  The film opens on Joel and Molly (Rudd and Poehler, respectively) eating dinner with their good friends Kyle and Karen (Hader and Kemper, respectively).  Joel and Molly then tell Kyle and Karen how they met and fell in love.  Their story starts with a perfect helicopter over Central Park in NYC just like any other rom-com and then goes on to introduce Joel and Molly as they were before they met.  

What makes They Came Together as funny as it is is Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter's relentless, go-for-broke style of comedy.  The humor is insanely inane, ridiculous, and frequently flat-out bizarre, but the inanity is intentional and almost always hits its mark.   Just when I thought Wain and Showalter wouldn't take a joke or scene any farther, they did.  The two milk every moment for all it's worth.  In a way, this entire film is like the most bizarrely hilarious SNL sketch you can think of on steroids.  

The sight gags are very effective in They Came Together.  Most are in-your-face, but there are a few subtler ones that are wonderful.  That isn't to say the verbal gags aren't funny.  There is an endless number of quotable lines in this film.  As I write this review, I keep getting the urge to turn the movie back on to rewatch my favorite parts with my favorite lines.

None of the humor would work without the performances of the extremely talented cast.  Poehler and Rudd are magic together.  They have natural chemistry that makes every scene between them believable.  As satirical and self-depricating as this film is, I actually cared about Joel and Molly.  They're oddly lovable characters.  The supporting cast is made up of some of the best comedians around and they all have their moments to shine.  Bill Hader's off-color performance is one of the highlights.  

In order to have a good comedy, it is essential to have a good editor.  Few realize just how vital a good editor is for a comedy.  Much of the comedic timing depends on the editor, and Jamie Gross' editing of They Came Together is wickedly funny.  His use of reaction shots is incredibly effective.  This sounds like a ridiculous statement since so much of a comedy's success derives from reaction shots, but the reaction shots in this film are unusually good.  They aren't immaculately framed or out-of-the-ordinary - they're just amusing.

Overall, They Came Together is so highly enjoyable it's scary.  Comedies rarely make me laugh uncontrollably, but They Came Together did.  As I was watching it for the first time, I would laugh at a joke, then be reminded of a previous joke that I laughed at and then start laughing all over again.  The film is expertly acted and has a big heart, which makes the proceedings more entertaining and relatable.  Because They Came Together is so over-the-top, it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but for most, it should be highly enjoyable.


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