HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: They Came Together
HTS Overall Score:74
If you know nothing of David Wain and Michael Showalter you’re going to be in for a rude shock. I actually didn’t realize those were the creative minds for the film until I started compiling information for this review, I had just read the synopsis and said “aw, that looks like a cute rom com spoof”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the names, David and Michael are the two who brain stormed the ludicrous and wild spoof “Wet Hot American Summer”, and their handwriting is all over the wall on this one. The first ½ of the movie runs more along the lines of a traditional parody, just a bit blunt and unrefined, but once the second ½ of the story comes into play the lunacy just starts ramping up till the final 25 minutes had me on the floor with the over the top craziness.
Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) are the main attraction here and the film is narrated by the two over the 84 minute runtime as they explain their meeting and falling in love to a pair of friends (played by Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper). They jokingly comment that their romance is a bit like a corny romantic comedy and they couldn’t be more right. Molly has been cheated on by her boyfriend Frank and runs a little candy shop in the upper west side of New York City, and doesn’t really want anything to do with men for the time being, while Joel is a big time executive over at CSR, a giant candy making conglomerate, the very one in fact that’s trying to run Molly out of business (You can probably guess which romantic comedy they’re playing off with this windup). Set up on a blind date during a Halloween party the two are hate at first sight, barely able to stand the other person. As fate would have it they run into each other again and find out they have more in common than they thought, which sparks a romance of epic proportions.
The couple do everything together, go on walks, romp around in the park (even missing a dead body) and even start to get serious. The problem comes in the form of unresolved issues as Joel still has some latent feelings for his cheating ex, Tiffany (Cobie Smulders) which start to surface. Breaking up the two go their separate ways and start to live their lives. Joel dates, gets married and ends up failing, while Molly ends up getting engaged to her accountant, Eggbert (Ed Helms). In a twist that NO ONE saw coming (wink wink nudge nudge), Joel comes to her wedding to give a desperate plea for their relationship, sweeping her off her feet, with the help of a few friends and living happily ever after, or so it seems.
Have you ever watched a movie where you start looking at your drinks and soda and start wondering who laced them with heroin? If so then you know exactly what I’m talking about as “They Came Together” fits the bill perfectly for a movie that the creators dreamed up under the influence of some very potent and very illegal substances. The trailers and the description of the film are some of the most misleading pieces of marketing that I’ve ever seen as it doesn’t come close to describing the lunacy contained within. It seems, at first glance, that the movie is a generic romantic comedy, but at closer inspection it becomes apparent that it’s actually a SPOOF of the rom com genre. However, this still doesn’t even come close to describing the movie properly as David Wain turns the movie from your normal spoof, to the ridiculous level that only he and Michael Showalter can dream up. The first ½ of the film is a bit hit or miss as the entire dialogue IS one entire joke. There isn’t a single straight line in the entire script as you realize that the actors are LITERALLY lampooning every rom com known to man in a span of 5 minutes. We have the clichés, the stupid bonding moments, the cheesy romantic goof ups that create tension, the whole works, but nothing is taken seriously. Every line is a parody, every facial expression straight out of Saturday Night Live. In fact the best way to describe that first half is a very long episode of SNL. The problem is, that SNL works in short bursts, stretch it out too long and it becomes stale very very quickly, and that’s where the problem lies. Some of the jokes are funny in a satirical sort of way, but the stupidity is so blunt, so unsubtle that it gets wearing very fast and tends to drag the story down. It isn’t till the last ½ way point where the story veers off from being a satire and goes into the zany antics of “Wet Hot American Summer” and turns to just pure witty slapstick. The final 25 minutes raised the bar up rather high to were the jokes were firing in rapid succession and on all cylinders to where I was rolling out of my chair.
The casting really surprised me, for while Paul Rudd is a veteran in doing rom com’s and just pure comedy’s, Amy Poehler is a bit more slapstick and tends to do well with her SNL skits or as supporting roles in films like “Blades of Glory”. She doesn’t seem Rom Com material, which is actually the point, as she uses her razor sharp wit to stab, beat and basically club the genre into submission in a sort of “You’ve got Mail” meets “Airplane” sort of way. Paul Rudd is the standout here as he’s done some great work in rom com’s and we’ve got him playing stupid and dumb to the old tropes, gleefully making fun of the roles and situations that he has himself played in the past (which makes it all the more sweet to the taste). While the two stars are the main attraction, the cameos and supporting characters come out of the woodworks with some fantastic roles. Christopher Meloni as Joel’s boss Roland is pure unadulterated gold, and there’s a scene in the Halloween party with him that is so wrong, but so funny that it becomes one of the two standout scenes of the entire film. We even get to see a few second roles with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Michael Shannon wielding a Katana (who comes in as the other standout scene, causing me to have a very difficult time breathing I might add). I can’t say that I truly thought this was a classic like “Wet Hot American Summer”, as the first half of the film can be a bit grating until you can see where David Wain is going with the plot. The second half ALMOST redeems the film, but that unevenness leaves me a bit colder than I would have liked. It’s still irreverent, funny at times, and completely inappropriate as much as the afore mentioned film, but not one that will be an instant classic.
Rated R for language and sexual content
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=25281[/img]“We Came Together” comes in a very pleasing 1.78:1 AVC transfer which pretty much is par for the course for modern romantic comedies. The colors are rich and saturated with lots of burgundy, oranges and other fall colors present in New York City. Contrasts are well done and skin tones are perfect. The film is well detailed, but it doesn’t rise into that level of crispness that makes your jaw drop, as there is a light bit of softness to the image. Still there’s plenty of fine detail to be scene, from the fibers on Paul Rudd’s suit to the wisps Amy Poehler’s uncontrollable blonde hair. Black levels are very good, with the only complaint to have in that arena is the occasional bit of black crush, especially during the indoor restaurant narration sequences. Still, a very pleasing image that mirrors the texture and feel of so many other romantic comedies, such as “You’ve got Mail”, “When Harry met Sally” and even the decorum of “Friends”.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=25289[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HDMA track is right on par with the video, giving a very pleasing Rom Com style experience. The track is naturally a bit front loaded, as it spends 90% of the time dealing with the dialogue and the rest of the time filling out the score and a few smattered sound effects. The surrounds are used rather sparingly, really coming out to fill in those back channels when you hear the hustle of New York City or when the little romantic score would come out to play. The rest of the time that front soundstage is the main attraction, and does a great job with keeping the audio and front effects right on target. The dialogue is complaint free, crystal clear and kept within a limited dynamic range. There’s a few whisper moments, but the majority of the time the dialogue is kept on one level, so you never have to adjust your receiver to hear anything being said. The low end is very clean and smooth, with a tight bass track that lends itself nicely to propping up the score and adding some oomph to thinks like slamming doors, and cars roaring down the city streets. A well done track, with its only fault being the limitation of the film’s sound design.
• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer David Wain and Producer/Co-Writer Michael Showalter
• "They ALL Came Together" Featurette
• San Francisco Sketchfest Table Read
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer
“They Came Together” is a bit of a frustrating experience as you can tell the crew tried so very hard, and really kind of fell flat until the second half of the movie. David Wain’s style is very unique, but it wasn’t as prevalent until nearly 45 minutes of run time later, so I can’t give it a solid two thumbs up, as much as I’d like to. The audio and video are very impressive, tailed for the genre quite well, and there are ACTUAL extras on the disc (which is becoming more and more rare in this day and age), so I’d give it a solid rental first, to see just how the film plays with your tastes. Go in expecting a traditional romantic comedy, or even a traditional tongue in cheek parody and you’ll be very disappointed. Go in expecting to feel like you’ve just eaten a brownie that just MIGHT be laced and you’ll know what to expect.
Starring: Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Bill Hader
Directed by: David Wain
Written by: Michael Showalter, David Wain
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Blu-ray Release Date: September 2nd, 2014
Buy They Came Together Blu-ray on Amazon
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