REVIEW: They Came Together

5 07 2014

They Came TogetherGenres naturally go through cycles, and right now, the romantic comedy is in a bit of a slump.  When I started writing this blog nearly five years ago, it was riding high with smash hits like “The Proposal” and “The Ugly Truth.”  If you look at the market now, there hasn’t really been a rom-com hit since 2011’s “Crazy Stupid Love,” largely because those kinds of movies just aren’t being made.

Why exactly they have gone out of fashion so dramatically is anyone’s guess.  It’s likely a combination of many factors, but two films point out some of the reasons why no one is rushing to finance “28 Dresses.”  Back in 2009, “(500) Days of Summer” took a revisionist angle on the genre, pointing out many romantic comedy conventions that needed to be reworked in order to be more in touch with the audience.

And now, in 2014, “They Came Together” marks the point where the genre’s hallmarks are so recognizable that they can be mercilessly sent up in an unrelenting satire.  David Wain, the great mind behind “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Role Models,” dismantles the romantic comedy with confidence and pinpoint accuracy.

His script lays bare all the subtext that most of us blindly accept when we encounter a standard genre pic, pointing out everything from the stereotypes of the characters (clumsy girl, non-threateningly masculine guy) to the role of New York City (like another character).  “They Came Together” is at its best when Wain performs his point-by-point deconstruction of all the clichés that normally trap the genre, due largely in part to how wonderfully Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler can cut up while sending up the trademarks.

“They Came Together” winds up coming slightly undone, however, by the sophomoric silliness that fills the moments that aren’t so brutally self-aware.  Wain is usually quite clever with his comedy (the notable exception being “Wanderlust“), and here, he drops to the level of Seth MacFarlane in “Family Guy” or “Ted.”  It’s funny on occasion but wildly inconsistent overall with one joke bombing and the next hitting the sweet spot.  Thankfully, it never quite stoops to the level of the movies it lambasts, but Wain might have had one of the most spectacular spoofs of all time on his hands had he just stuck to the more high-minded humor.  B-2stars


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3 responses

5 07 2014
CMrok93

It worked for me because it was a parody flick that didn’t mind getting weird every so often. However, I would still like to see a genuine rom-com starring both Poehler and Rudd, as I think they’d be able to deliver on creating an effective one. Good review Marshall.

5 07 2014
rollonthemovies

I think romcoms are pretty much a nineties genre by now. All of the really likeable films from this genre I remember came out when I was pretty young, and I haven’t seen anything like it since. Plus I don’t think we have these actresses anymore that build a large part of their career on roles like this.

5 07 2014
Marshall

They were still being made regularly up until 2009-2011, although maybe some of the best were made in earlier decades. (See this chart on Box Office Mojo, sort by year: http://boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=romanticcomedy.htm)

I disagree with you slightly that actresses aren’t building their careers on rom-coms, although that all depends on when you want to begin the time frame you dub “anymore.” They definitely aren’t the sure-fire path to superstardom like they were in the past; just this week, Katherine Heigl blamed them for stalling her career: http://www.vulture.com/2014/07/katherine-heigl-blames-rom-coms-career-slump.html

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