They Came Together is a weird sort of film, one held together by a flimsy premise, and yet somehow still ends up more or less working as a feature film. Essentially, the idea here is to take every tired and idiotic romantic comedy trope and lampoon the hell out of it. And yeah, that is pretty much the running gag for the entire film, and for some reason, it mostly works. The characters are all shallow archetypes and the cast portraying them feels like a Best of 2000’s SNL reunion show, and they go through the motions of the guy meeting the girl, then falling in love, then breaking up before finally getting back together in the end, and all the while winking to the camera over how stupid the whole enterprise actually is. Unfortunately, though, for every joke that works, there’s another that doesn’t.
See, the way the film is structured, it feels like a series of sketch comedy bits with the intention of dissecting the romantic comedy formula and showing the audience the gross innards of the fluffiest and most brainless of film genres. However, the sketches don’t seem to be able to sustain themselves just off that gag for the entire 80 minute runtime, so there are moments where gross-out humor and non-sequiturs take over a scene, and these sequences feel forced and out of place. Most importantly, they’re often not very funny, which is really the death knell for any comedy.
However, the parts that are funny really do work. I love the idea of breaking down the stupidity inherent in a genre and exposing it to a wider audience. As a movie lover, it demonstrates to me that at least some in the industry recognize the inanity of repackaging the same product over and over to give essentially the same experience to an unthinking audience. I imagine that some folks who take a look at They Came Together will pick it up thinking it’s just another romantic comedy, but come from it seeing just how susceptible they’ve been to Hollywood laziness.
And so, despite some portions that don’t really work as well as I’d like, I’m giving They Came Together a recommendation. It’s not the greatest spoof ever, but it does an adequate job of getting its point across and the parts that are funny are really damn funny. And without spoiling any of the jokes, that’s about all I can say about it. Give this one a look.
Can you think of any romantic comedies that work as more than just brainless fluff? Name a few in the comments below.