Creating conventional, mediocre romantic comedies seems like an all too easy, straight-forward affair, with so many directors churning out cliched, hackneyed productions that seem reluctant to take any risks. However if there is one thing that’s even easier to do, it’s to parody them, as a somewhat simplistic cinematic stomping ground that breeds cheap, elementary gags. It’s therefore a huge credit to director David Wain, that his satire They Came Together is simply hilarious.
The film opens at a double date, where Kyle (Bill Hader) and Karen (Ellie Kemper) are quizzing Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) about their relationship and how they came to be together. The rest of the film is then that very story, as we proceed into flashbacks to when the pair first crossed paths, exploring the turbulent, on-off affair that ensued, bringing us all the way back to the present day.
Wain perfectly ridicules the romantic comedy genre, playing up to the various tropes that we’re so used to seeing, and exaggerating and overstating them so greatly for comic effect – yet all the while managing to stay relatively close to what actually exists. The problem is, however, no matter how funny this production may prove to be, you can’t help but damn with faint praise, as it’s extremely easy territory for a comedy. In many instances you find yourself writing your own punchlines in your head, and sometimes they’re equally as funny, if not funnier, than what genuinely transpires. At times the gags are so obvious and transparent, that you feel ashamed for laughing.
That being said, though it’s easy to poke fun at rom-coms, the execution still has to be spot on in order to work, and in this title that’s a sure thing. Much of that is down to the comic talent of both Rudd and Poehler, while their distinct charm and affability help carry this film along. Though it’s presented in a completely tongue-in-cheek fashion, the romance at the heart of this tale is actually rather sweet. The actors share a strong chemistry, and in spite of the derisive nature of this piece, you can’t help but root for their coming together all the same.
Inane, unavailing and ultimately, rather farcical, They Came Together defies the odds and somehow manages to maintain its hilarity, despite fearing the joke will wear thin after a mere matter of moments. Though perhaps this may seem more at home as a sketch on Saturday Night Live or Jimmy Kimmel, for instance, fortunately for Wain, the one, said joke that is stretched to inspire this feature, is really a rather funny one.