(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: They Came Together
Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max
The Pitch: Spoofing seemingly every New York romantic comedy from When Harry Met Sally to You’ve Got Mail, director David Wain, and his frequent comedy cohort Michael Showalter (the guys who brought you Wet Hot American Summer) both make a mockery of and pay tribute to all the tropes of the genre. From the brownstone homes to the holiday gatherings, watch as Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd meet, fall in love, break up, and get back together, all while the comedic style of spoofs like Airplane! and Young Frankenstein keep the laughs coming in fast and fierce.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: They Came Together has the most formulaic and clichéd storyline, but that’s the point. Told in flashbacks, the movie recalls how Molly (Amy Poehler) and Joel (Paul Rudd) came to fall in love, despite the fact that the former owns a little sweet shop that’s about to be put out of business by the latter’s employer, a massive candy conglomerate. Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper listen intently as the couple recount all the details of their complicated relationship, putting the goofiest spin on all the scenes you’ve seen in countless New York romantic comedies before, so much that it’s almost like New York is a character throughout the movie.
This movie stands with only a few comedies that have made me laugh the hardest in a movie theater. The first time I saw this movie, I was laughing so hard that I missed jokes, making the second viewing that much more enjoyable. They Came Together isn’t just a romantic comedy that’s actually funny, it’s a straight-up parody of the genre with gutbusting meta gags that rank among the very best from Mel Brooks (Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs) and the trio of Zucker, Abrams, and Zucker (Airplane!, The Naked Gun). It ranges from clever lampooning to downright silly slapstick. Here’s one of the scenes that never fails to crack me up, no matter how many times I see it:
Stupid. Brilliant. Hilarious. There are several more scenes from this movie that I could have put above and be completely satisfied with my choice. Many of them would be included in a list of my all-time favorite comedy moments, and they can still make me cry tears of laughter. That’s how funny this movie is.
Along with the two goofy performances by Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, there’s an amazing cavalcade of incredible comedic talent to support them. Max Greenfield, Cobie Smulders, Ed Helms, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Michael Ian Black, Kenan Thompson, Ken Marino, Jack McBrayer, Christopher Meloni, Michaela Watkins, and more all get their moment to shine. There are also some genuinely shocking cameos that you won’t see coming, including one towards the end by an Oscar nominee that contains one of the funniest moments ever put to film. You’ll know it when you see it.
Along with the likes of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, this is one of the few shining efforts that proves the art of parody isn’t dead.
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