Tuesday, July 1, 2014
They Came Together 
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RE.com (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review
They Came Together  (directed and screenplay co-written by David Wain along with Michael Showalter) seeks to be an Airplane!  style spoof of romantic comedies. It's certainly a worthy project. Whether or not it succeeds will probably depend on the viewer.
The story of how Molly (played by Amy Poehler) and Joel (played by Paul Rudd) "came together" is told in the context of a dinner that they were having with another couple, Kyle and Karen (played by Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper), at some bristro somewhere in Manhattan. Kyle and Karen had just finished telling Molly and Joel how they had met and fallen in love, and one of them (no doubt to their later-regret) asked Molly and Joel to tell them their story. They quickly replied, in unison, that their story could easily be made into a rom-com. And they quickly (and methodically ...) elaborated. "You see, what first attracted me about Joel, was that he was _vaguely_ and yet not explicitly/aggressively Jewish," Molly begins. "Jewish-lite," Joel concurs. "And we must confess that the third protagonist in our story was clearly New York," they add, again in unison.
What follows is 80 minutes of one rom-com cliche after another, some work, some don't, but most do:
There's Joel's "hot" but cold ex Tiffany (played by Cobie Smothers). He keeps telling her, "I love you." She keeps finding creative ways to avoid saying "I love you" back... ;-). And later she dumps him for his back-stabbing rival from the office named Oliver (played by Jack McBrayer). Then there's Joel's salt-of-the-earth, best buddy from work named Bob (played by Jason Mantzoukas) who Joel nearly kills playing nerf-football in their high-rise Manhattan office ("Go deep," Joel tells Bob. Well ...).
On the other side of the coin, Molly begins the story having broken-up with her boyfriend, but having just opened an unbelievably cute candy shop named "Lower Sweet Side" (or something as lickerish covered with syrup as that) which was by her own estimation "charming, adorable and impossible not to like." So completely fulfilled did she feel running this shop, that she would give the candy she made away to all the little kids that came there FOR FREE ... This of course put her in financial trouble, as her nice-but-super-dorky accountant Egbert (played by Ed Helms) tried to warn her about. Poor dorky Egbert, of course, harbored a not so secret crush on Molly as well. Then there was Molly's looking-out-for-her and perhaps necessarily black coworker/BFF Wanda (played by Teyonah Parris) who was concerned that, really cute candy shop "success" or not, Molly would not really be happy "without a man in her life." (I say Wanda was "perhaps Molly's necessarily black BFF" because with the exception of a tiny bit part played by Kenan Thompson as "Teddy" the "black buddy" member of Joel's "pick-up basketball game" crew, there's not a single person of color in the film and even white-oriented rom-coms now tend to have a requisite "person of color" playing _some_ significant supporting role. Hence, Wanda ... who seemed to exist apparently to give Molly support when(ever) she needed it most...). Molly also had a disapproving older sister (a la Jerry McGuire ) and a little boy who immediately took a liking to Joel. And her parents were _a kick_ (Mrs Robinson  / Meet the Fockers  ;-)
Well, what could go wrong? Well ... there has to be some drama/conflict/turn of events in the story, in order to make a movie. And there are plenty... Remember Molly has a "super cute, pink covered, neighborhood candy shop. Well, Joel works as some sort of a middle-level manager for a faceless / Evil candy conglomerate out to destroy cute neighborhood candy shops the world over ... Then of course they have to have a fight. The ultra-hot yet really, really cold ex has to make a re-appearance. There has to be some dramatic resolution at the end.
Does it work? Again, it'll depend on the viewer. But there's some very, very funny stuff in this film that IMHO makes up for the groaners.
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