Critics' Pick

They Came Together (R)

Comedy 83 June 27, 2014
By Amy Nicholson
Here's why life isn't like movies: Romantic comedies are insane. To sustain 90 minutes of suspense, the would-be lovers have to meet-cute, reject each other for mystifying reasons, then be forced by the universe to reunite. David Wain's They Came Together isn't quite like those other movies. Squint at Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd and you could almost mistake them for Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, with one difference: These comics acknowledge their movie is nuts.

Rudd and Poehler play Joel and Molly, a New York pair recounting the saga of how they met to their unhappily married friends (Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper) in a suave Upper West Side restaurant. He was a corporate shark for a behemoth candy superstore; she was an angel who ran a twee neighborhood sweet shop where all proceeds went straight to charity. This is a formulaic romantic comedy cranked up to 11, loud enough to make the audience hear the distortion.

Joel and Molly inhabit a picture-perfect Manhattan that's so cliché the local train stop is called the Upper West Side subway station. When they bond, it's over banalities: a shared love of Q-tips, grandmothers, and the color blue, plus the stunning revelation that they both like books. Chirps Molly, "I've literally never met anyone else who likes fiction!"

Together lurches with anti-humor, those awkward pauses that have taken the place of punch lines. The film's margins are crammed with disorienting visual jokes, like sex scenes where Joel and Molly wake up in an underwear-strewn bedroom while somehow still fully dressed. It shouldn't work as well as it does, and wouldn't if it weren't perfectly cast with America's Comedy Sweethearts.
David Wain Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Ed Helms Michael Showalter, David Wain Lionsgate

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