8.6

They Came Together

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<i>They Came Together</i>

Parody is very easy to do, but difficult to do well. This is particularly true when you try and sustain it for an entire movie, as opposed to, say, an Internet video. It has to be more than merely slightly tweaking something from pop culture, and you don’t really have any substance or story to drive the film, so the jokes better really land, and you’d better be smart about your parody. David Wain’s They Came Together rolled the dice and tried to parody the romantic comedy. Fortunately, they succeeded about as well as anybody could hope for.

Of course, when you have a cast led by Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, you’re off to a good start. Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter also have experience with parody, thanks to Wet Hot American Summer, a parody in a similar vein to They Came Together. It is a parody that takes the guise of an actual romantic comedy, in order to comment on them and lampoon them, and also to just throw in a bunch of completely goofy, nonsense jokes. Wain’s style of parody is very much in the vein of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker. Throw everything against the wall, and see what sticks. Mostly, it sticks. The film is silly and stupid, but in a delightful, funny way. If you have even the slightest knowledge of romantic comedies (and you probably do because you are a person in the world), you can appreciate what’s going on in They Came Together.

Rudd and Poehler nail the delicate tone of the parody, and it feels particularly subversive to cast the supremely talented Poehler in the kind of romantic comedy movie that just relies on the female lead being clumsy. The framing device for the story is also a smart way for the film to handle the parody, and to allow them to comment on it more outright. The supporting cast is also loaded with top-notch performers, although there may be fewer members of The State than you might hope for. (The cameos are a nice touch, too.)

As with any kitchen sink comedy, especially a parody, some of the jokes won’t land. It’s a slight film, but you know that going in. There are a lot of excellent jokes and visual gags, and the movie subverts expectations, and clichés, many times over. As a result, this is the best parody film to come along in a while. They Came Together is a reliable source of laughs, no matter how you feel about more traditional romantic comedies.

Director: David Wain
Writers: David Wain and Michael Showalter
Starring: Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler
Release Date: June 27, 2014