They came together. The best thing a movie title can do is, at the very least, give you a sense of what kind of movie you're about to watch. "12 Years a Slave" is probably not going to be a romantic comedy. You would never read the words "Dawn of the Dead" and think it's a Disney movie. There are certain movie titles where you just know exactly what you're going to get and "They Came Together" is one of those titles. You know where the movie's heart is with a title like that and, thankfully, this a movie that 100% lives up to its goofy, pervy title. It's an obvious joke, and yet it's so boldly obvious that it's something I can't help but be tickled with. They went there. And throughout the 83-minute running time, screenwriters David Wain and Michael Showalter keep the silliness and the absurdness at a high level up until the very last shot which has Paul Rudd smirking at the camera. In many ways, this is just a pitch perfect rom-com spoof.
So, tell me then, why does this have a paltry 5.4 rating on IMDB and a 41% audience approval rating on rottentomatoes? Have moviegoers lost their funny bone? Have they lost their marbles? Can they not tell the difference between a great spoof and a terrible spoof? I've even seen a critic compare this movie to "Date Movie" and "Disaster Movie." This is not one of those movies! Not by a long shot! And if you can't recognize that, then you are just not a very perceptive person. "They Came Together" is everything a romantic-comedy spoof SHOULD be. It sticks to its storyline, almost obsessively, and yet it finds time to find humor in every scene.
Everything in this movie is slightly off-kilter. From a jar of tiny condoms to Christopher Meloni shitting himself in a superhero costume and then having the nerve to blame it on someone else... "They Came Together" manages to go into all these little directions while never getting too sidetracked to tell this incredibly trite, cliched story.
The main storyline is pretty much ripped from the pages of Nora Ephron's "You've Got Mail" screenplay. Molly (Amy Poehler) is your short, sweet Meg Ryan-type who owns an indie candy shop. Joel (Paul Rudd) is your requisite Tom Hanks, who works for a major candy corporation. Of course, the corporation seems destined to take down Molly's little shop, and yet, she falls in love with Joel anyway.
That's pretty much all you need to know story-wise, as the rest of the movie is best left being a surprise. But what's wonderful about "They Came Together," compared to the disgustingly cynical Friedberg/Seltzer movies is that Wain and Showalter come at this material really knowing the ins and outs of a typical romantic comedy. They both love and hate the genre, that's what makes this such a pointed parody. If they just flat out hated rom-coms, then they wouldn't have been able to get all the little details right. But they got the mandatory montage which, for no reason, turns into a Norah Jones music video. They got the perfect leads to really take the material into hilarious directions. The movie really just feels like a labor of love, with a cast that's filled to the brim with talent and a director (David Wain) who knows how to make a good comedy.
Perhaps the film's only real flaw is just how cheaply shot it is. It would've been even better if it captured the ridiculous glossiness that you always see in a rom-com like this. Wain's last two movies, "Wanderlust" and "Role Models," were legit studio comedies and, I don't know, there's something about the cheapness of "They Came Together" that keeps it from being an out-an-out classic. It's absolutely insane to me that a movie with a cast like this couldn't get a budget higher than $3 million.
Ah well. It still works beautifully. Seriously, this is one of the best all-out spoofs that I've seen since the glory days of Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker. It seems destined to become a cult classic. And perhaps the best thing about "They Came Together" is the way it captures New York City. Like, seriously, it's like a whole other character in the movie!