They Came Together is definitely not as funny as Wet Hot American Summer. Both movies were created by Michael Showalter and David Wain. Both are send-ups of cheesy American formulaic films. Both are campy, raunchy and over the top. But like Anchorman 2, it’s hard to create the same comedy magic twice. Seeing Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler (playing the main characters of Joel and Molly, respectively) stomp around and mug ridiculously in this movie was just…not as great as that time they did the same thing in 2001.
I don’t mean to sound overly disappointed; I did laugh. They Came Together entitles itself with a groaner of a pun and continues from there. The movie opens with Joel and Molly at a restaurant with Kyle and Karen (the glorious Bill Hader of Saturday Night Live and the equally hilarious Ellie Kemper of the The Office and this gem). Molly and Joel share the story of how they met, describing it as “exactly like a cheesy romantic comedy!” The story then proceeds to follow the typical rom-com plot, with a quirky girl (Molly falls down the stairs a lot) and a “corporate” lackey dude (Joel works for a candy mega-company that is about to put Molly’s indie candy shop out of business, You’ve Got Mail-style). The couple is brought together by their friends, hate each other at first, eventually fall in love over their shared interest in “fiction books” and “coffee,” get broken up and later brought back together by circumstances, etc.
The ending is a funny surprise. And for every few jokes that go overlong there is a genuine laugh-out-loud scene (the trip to meet Molly’s family is particularly great). It’s just…not as great as you’d hope. The cast is impressive and everyone tries their best, for what that’s worth. The movie includes some of my favourites, who each made me wish that they’d been given better lines, like Ed Helms (who was very polite when I drunkenly slurred compliments at him at a The Office convention in 2007), Melanie Lynskey (badass from Heavenly Creatures who I sadly learned just divorced Jimmi Simpson and now I have a hole in my heart where my former favourite character-actor couple used to live), Michael Ian Black (decent comic who one time looked down my shirt at a charity event), Max Greenfield (I don’t remember him from Veronica Mars but he’s funny most times), Kenan Thompson (a hero who saves many a skit on Saturday Night Live) and Teyonah Parris (Dawn from Mad Men and adorably says “friggin” on twitter, which is really fucking cute). ★★