They Came Together (2014) – Review

Directed by David Wain
Written by David Wain, Michael Showalter
Starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler

Sometimes you just have to ask why. It’s not ‘why’ in the brittle, mean and nasty way. It’s more of a ‘what were you thinking?’ in a kind of brotherly, chummy way. You genuinely want the best for the people involved and you understand their stab at irony and parody, but really, was it necessary? If you ask Poehler and Rudd, on their respective death beds, to list the films that they have starred in, there is high chance that even they won’t remember this themselves. The problem with that statement is the whole vanilla feel of ‘They Came Together.’ This film is akin to a toothless tiger. It looks the part, yet doesn’t really have much to back up its apparent menace. Any marketing executive will tell you that there is nothing worse than an average review. They would much rather you hated it or loved, rather than feel completely ambivalent about it. As an example, I watched this three days ago and I am only noew sitting down to pour out my thoughts on it. I nearly didn’t bother at all, trying to think of an excuse to somehow lump it into a ‘rest of the month’ post that would mean I could give it the scant attention that it really deserved. 
 
Rudd and Poehler are undeniably very likeable and quite bankable Hollywood stars, but does this really give them licence to make what are ostensibly below par comedies that aren’t, albeit tongue in-cheek, anywhere near as satisfying as the inspirations they are trying to send up? Sure, by all means, produce as many parodies of innocent targets as you like, but if youre going to, then you at least have to make them as good, if not better, than than the original subject matter. This is a kind of no-win situation if you think about it, as the only reason for doing a parody of a famous and well-loved storyline is because it is famous and well-loved. So maybe you’re on a hiding to nothing. Personally, I loved the likes of ninetlies rom-coms You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless In Seattle. They were frothy, feelbad-fee/good happy ending stories that entertained, were scripted admirably and had enough laughs in them to keep most people happy. This attempt at barbed irony fails to hit the mark most of the time and it leaves the audeince wondering why (the producers of the film) they bothered.
There will be familiar and much loved elements of the film-making genre defining process that will jar with audiences here. There are a host of protracted scenes that hark from the likes of Seth McFarlane’s playbook which might work well in the the likes of Family Guy, but these tricks do not translate well to this feature. Many of the scenes created out of sarcasm end up beirng long-winded annoyances that initially seem clever but stay long past the point of being welcome.  The affected, purposely stilted performances when in the midst of the story are unusual and off-kilter to begin with, but after a while, you do become used to the approach, but even so, it still does not make the script funny or realised enough to impress.Overall, They Came Together is very disappointing. It’s not becasue this collected group of creators aren’t good at what they do. They have proved they are on many other occasions. As such, then why makes this? A shoddy, dumbed-down piss-take of a genre that they spend the rest of their careers relying on? A mostly unfunny script, delivered laboriously, make this something to avoid paying out for. Maybe grab it on TV when it comes your way, which I am sure it will be, before long.

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