HiT Review: ‘They Came Together’

Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd team up to skewer rom-com cliches

“They Came Together” will leave a scar, the kind even the steadiest surgeon’s hand can’t remove.

So why does it feel like the film lets the rom-com genre off too easily?

Paul Rudd plays Joel, who we’re told is vaguely Jewish and coming off a bad break up. Enter Molly (Amy Poehler), a feisty singleton who runs an independent store selling sweets.

Their paths collide when his corporate bosses target Molly’s shop for termination. Credit writers David Wain and Michael Showalter for mocking the knee-jerk way screenwriters pick on Big Business.

We’re told – repeatedly – how New York City will be a major character in the couple’s love story. Too often “They Came Together” (get it?) is so amused by itself it repeats its own jokes. That only works when the material is given a fresh spin, or at the minimum new context.

Nothing doing here.

They Came Together Official Trailer #1 (2014) - Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler Comedy HD
Rudd and Poehler share a sweet comic chemistry, and the script delivers enough second-tier laughs to keep us engaged. The stars are alternately coy and exasperated in true “When Harry Met Sally …” fashion, which is all one can ask in such a setting.

Perhaps it’s a case of fish meets barrel, but who couldn’t slice and dice the modern rom-com? And it’s rare to see a major motion picture that looks like a basic cable production at best. Any film hoping to mock rom-coms should know the genre always looks spiffy on screen.

DID YOU KNOW? David Wain met frequent collaborator Michael Showalter at NYU. They would go on to create the cult classic “Wet Hot American Summer.”

Some gags feel like they were air lifted from a Judd Apatow comedy, like the executive who has a wardrobe malfunction in a bathroom. The double dinner date which serves as the film’s framing device only hints at true comic tension.

Also missing – a meaty riff on the cliched best friend role and gags on how Big Apple rom-coms lack minorities, something Hollywood’s woke makeover over-corrected in recent years.

That might have given the comedy an edge.

“They Came Together” is for anyone fed up with Kate Hudson stumbling her way into a love connection. Those eager for darker comic takes are better off re-watching “Bad Santa” or bringing their snarkiest pals to group mock “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”

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