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They Came Together (2014)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/2/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/2/2014
As we all know, trends in movies come and go. Zombies, super-heroes, chick-flicks -- we've all seen periods in which a certain genre or sub-genre seemed to dominate cinemas. But, there are also things which one would assume would be constant, such as comedies. However, over the years, we've seen various types of comedies go in and out of vogue. In the early 80s, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team popularized an incredibly silly type of comedy in which very literal jokes and wacky sight gags dominated hit movies like Airplane! and The Naked Gun. While these movies were very popular trend-setters, it's been a while since we've seen this kind of humor on-screen, outside of the Scary Movie franchise. That all changes with the release of They Came Together.
They Came Together introduces us to Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler), a couple who share their story of romance with another couple (Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper) over dinner. Molly owned a small candy store in New York and was decidedly single. Joel worked for a large candy conglomerate and was dating Tiffany (Cobie Smulders). It seems that Joel has everything going for him, but he learns that Tiffany has been cheating and he loses a big assignment at work. When he meets Molly at a party, he initially finds her annoying, but they soon learn that they have a lot in common and begin to date. But, can their relationship survive when Molly learns that Joel's company is after her store?
They Came Together comes from The State alums David Wain and Michael Showalter, who were also behind 2001's Wet Hot American Summer. (Wain also made the hilariousRole Models and the disappointing Wanderlust.) That latter film contained several different kinds of comedy, but it was basically a take-off on Meatballs. They Came Together apparently has Meg Ryan in its cross-hairs, as, at its core, spoofs When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail. The plot-point of the small-business owner unknowingly falling in love with the corporate rep is taken directly from You've Got Mail, and many of the smaller elements mimic When Harry Met Sally. The movie picks apart the cliched elements of the romantic comedy, and it's evident that Wain and Showalter watched a lot of rom-coms and made notes on what they wanted to spoof.
The problem with They Came Together is that it can't decide exactly what kind of comedy it wants to be. On one hand, it's good that the movie offers various kinds of comedy, as that could widen the appeal, and there's no doubt that Wain and Showalter rarely slow down, throwing one joke after another at us. But, the movie still feels very disjointed and uneven. An incredibly goofy Airplane!-like gag will be followed by a prat-fall, which will then lead to a vulgar joke. The movie has difficulty finding a rhythm, as it's constantly changing gears. This feeds into the episodic nature of the script, which feels more like a series of skits than a fully realized story.
Given the pedigree of those involved, I had expected more from They Came Together. I did laugh out loud a few times (the hamburger gag really got me), but most of the movie is simply more humorous than truly hilarious. Rom-com fans who are good sports will enjoy how spot-on some of the spoof scenes are. The real appeal of the film may be the cast, which is full of familiar faces. It's clear that Wain, Rudd, and Poehler called some old friends to appear in the movie. Some of the jokes may fall flat, but I liked the goofy spirit of the movie and it was nice to see someone trying that ZAZ brand of comedy again.
They Came Together will delight fans of Chris Meloni on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably those in the daytime exterior scenes. The image is never overly dark or bright and the overall crispness lends a nice amount of depth to the picture. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-film music sounds good, as it feels the speakers. The stereo effects during the street scenes are nicely done and show good separation. The surround sound effects are subtle, but do emerge in certain scenes.
The They Came Together Blu-ray Disc offers a handful of special features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY with Director/Co-Writer David Wain and Producer/Co-Writer Michael Showalter. "They All Came Together" (24 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers comments from the cast and creative team. There is a discussion of the film's themes and the brand of humor offered here. We learn that a live reading of the script lead to the movie actually being made. The actual production is then examined, especially the experience of shooting in New York. From there, the cast is explored and we hear from many of the actors. The aforementioned live reading is presented in "San Francisco Sketchfest Table Read" (104 minutes), which is fun because we get to see the actors laughing at the jokes. The Disc contains thirty-one DELETED SCENES which run about 34 minutes. A lot of these are simply longer versions of scenes from the finished film, but there are some new jokes here. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long