They Came Together turns romantic comedies on their head with a satire that pulls at such classics as When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail. It doesn’t have the same comedic punch that David Wain’s previous satire, Wet Hot American Summer, had but still delivers laughs thanks to a witty script and very talented all-star cast.
Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star as Joel and Molly, two New Yorkers who meet in the most romantic comedy way ever (except it isn’t a romantic comedy, it is real life as Poehler puts it). Molly runs her own business, a candy store called “Upper Sweet Side New York,” while Joel is a corporate drone who is posed with making her get rid of the store. They both meet at a friend’s party and don’t exactly hit it off at first, but a change of heart and some chance meeting leads to the love story we always wanted.
Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter craft a satire in the vein of classic satires like Aireplane! that shows the duo’s massive understanding of the genre while still showing affection towards the genre that has turned into more of a cash-in with big names and no care put into it. They Came Together carries the same bizarre wit that Wain and Showalter displayed in Wet Hot American Summer and the fact that both leads (especially Rudd, who is a veteran romantic comedy actor) are playing against type and clearly understand the roles makes it even more hilarious.
It is calming to see these writers dive into the genre that has seemingly lost touch with the classics that made it one of Hollywood’s most popular, and aesthetically rewarding, genres with audiences. The hits like Roman Holiday and Sleepless in Seattle are substituted for movies meant more as tear-jerking, date movies like The Vow instead of actually developing two semi-real people into the lead roles rather than caricatures meant to make the audience loom over them.
With We Came Together, Wain and Showalter took two romantic archetypes (the straight guy with commitment issues and the klutzy girl) and not only turned them on their heads for the sake of laughs but also crafted a well put together romantic comedy that rivals the norm that is being put out there today. Rudd’s sly, clever smile as he says something goofy and laughs at the camera and Poehler’s knack for walking into the scene with something absurd on plays to the two actors strengths.
As mentioned, Rudd has starred in multiple romantic comedies before (I Love You, Man; Knocked Up) that his persona came be linked to the ideal leading man in the films. His ability to play against that, almost making fun of himself for the roles he plays, makes for the scenes with him even more funny and cut more as commentary on the actor being type cast then anything (let’s see Hugh Grant next). On the other hand, Poehler playing this klutzy girl links her to that dominates the female lead character sphere currently (see Anna in Frozen). She plays with that archetype and adds her own commentary to the role that seems to make female characters likable rather than off-putting and cold.
We Came Together isn’t the greatest satire ever but it is one that is smart and knows how to target the genre. It’s microscopic look at romantic comedies and the characters that dominate them is strong and the two leads aid with turning heads on the archetypes that make up the general rom-com lead character. With a bunch of laughs and a talented cast, the film is able to pull off its goal and still deliver a satisfying installment to the genre.