Craig's Viewing Room: "They Came Together"

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When Joel and Molly meet, it's hate at first sight: his big Corporate Candy Company threatens to shut down her quirky indie shop. Plus, Joel is hung up on his sexy ex. But amazingly, they fall in love, until they break up about two thirds of the way through, and Molly starts dating her accountant. But then right at the end...well you'll just have to see. (Hint: Joel makes a big speech and they get back together.)
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I’m still waiting for that send-up of movie conventions that could match those Jim Abrahams/Zucker Brother spoofs like “Naked Gun”, “Hot Shots” and of course, “Airplane.” Those movies made veering into all sorts or weird directions into a comedy art form and the way they managed to be both goofy and clever spoofs should be something that anyone who tries to perform this kind of genre comedy again should take note of.

 

There have been some solid contenders. The start of “Scary Movie” is pitch perfect before it slips into constant gross-out jokes. Probably the best would be Edgar Wright and Nick Pegg’s “Hot Fuzz” and “Shawn of the Dead” but still not nearly as hilarious. The guys behind cult classic (and movie I can’t stand) “Wet Hot American Summer” and Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler try to do it here with their rom-com spoofing “They Came Together.” This is not one that even comes close.

 

The rom-com is one of the hardest to actually spoof because really doesn’t it seem like it spoofing itself already? They usually come down to some adorable, perky white chick who falls for nice, eager to please guy. Writers Michael Showalter and David Wain try to mock this with corny best friends, improbable conflicts, and more than enough pratfalls and slapstick, but for the most part it comes off like a regular rom-com although worse because everybody thinks the lack of sincerity is really the joke when it’s really just tiresome.

 

If you care about the plot, Poehler is the lonely Molly, who runs a small business Candy shop, and Rudd is Joel, who works for a big, evil candy conglomerate who wants to be the only business on the block. This is a nod to movies like “The Shop around the Corner”, except “You’ve Got Mail” was also a nod to ‘Shop” and it did a much better job of actually being funny. “They Came Together” has mostly old, lame gags like a character saying “You san say that again” and another character says it again, and goes into moments of weirdness (like Joel almost getting it on with his grandma) that are really just awkward. Anyway, Joel loses his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders), meets Molly at party, blah, blah, blah.

 

At only 84 minutes, the movie has very few genuine laughs and feels like a slog to get through. A cast of very funny people like Bill Hader, Elle Kemper, Ed Helms, Max Greenfield, Keenan Thompson, and Michael Ian Black have very little to do and the whole thing just comes off lazy and uninspired.