Spoof movies have a pretty lumpy track record. For every great one like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story or Airplane, there are a million stinkers like Epic Movie or A Haunted House.[Editor’s Note: A Haunted House I thought was on the right track of spoofs at least, not great, but far better than Scary Movie 5] They are a very hard film to create. The line between smart satire and dumb, obvious mockery is a thin one to cross, and so rarely does a film do it right. They Came Together treads that line masterfully, putting both acute observations on the genre and slapstick gags to great effect.
One thing most spoof movies do wrong is focusing on the wrong thing. The reason movies like Date Movie and Vampires Suck! don’t work is because they trade actual humor with throwing a bunch of remakes of scenes from popular movies starring actors that aren’t allowed to explore in a blender and shoving them haphazardly in no sort of order and with no purpose into the film. The reason They Came Together works so well is that it knows that that is worthless. I never found a reference to a specific romantic comedy, rather tons of observations that apply to the genre as a whole, a genre that has been repeating itself for years.
They Came Together doesn’t have much of a story apart from that that you get in any other romantic comedy. Paul Rudd‘s a guy and Amy Poehler‘s a girl and they meet each other and fall in love. It’s uninteresting but purposefully so. The meat of this movie is in the gags. The story just gives an excuse to run from one joke to the next. And the jokes land 90% of the time, an impressive number given how densely packed full the movie is with them. It seems like every two seconds you’re given some absurd thing to laugh at, whether it be something big like Jason Mantzoukas flying through a plate glass window at the top of a skyscraper or a small visual joke like the fact that after a full night of love-making Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler wake up completely clothed in what they wore the night before, the joke almost always lands.
Rudd and Poehler play their parts extremely well. It’s been a while since I’ve seen either of them have to use their physical comedy skill to this degree. Probably since director David Wain‘s last collaboration with the both of them, Wet Hot American Summer (another genius parody film). The film is also supported by a great cast mostly made up of comedy movie regulars like Jason Mantzoukas and Jack McBrayer. Even the smallest roles shine in this movie. Basically, if somebody is on screen, they are there to deliver something that will make you laugh.
If you’re looking for a quick and breezy film to sit down and watch when you are bored or if you just need something silly to cheer you up, They Came Together is a great choice. Fans of both slapstick and brainy comedy should both be satisfied because this movie really is for everyone. It sucks that the film is only getting a limited-release run in theaters, because I’m only imagining how much bring-down-the-house laughter the film could elicit from a completely packed theater. Still, watching it through VOD is a totally valid option. You may even want to watch it a couple times. A second viewing helped me see a big number of small details that made the film even more entertaining in hindsight.
However you choose to watch They Came Together, you will have a good time.