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They Came Together


Stars: Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Ed Helms, Michael Ian Black, Michael Murphy, Kenan Thompson, Jack McBrayer, Ken Marino, Teyonah Parris, Zandy Hartig, Noureen DeWulf, Michaela Watkins, Randall Park, Erinn Hayes

Director: David Wain


Not just one mucky comedy released in the same week but two, with this resolutely but enjoyably self-aware gag-spattered romcom (Rudd is told “Your story really is like a corny movie”) joining Sex Tape to wait to be critically condemned.

Which wouldn’t be difficult. Any trace of ‘art’ is patently missing, replaced by an avalanche of (mostly) filthy gags provided by co-writer (with Michael Showalter)/director David Wain (someome who clearly knows his farce from his elbow) and delivered with just the right straight faces by the well-chosen cast.

Wain’s framing device works well. Lovers Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler recount the lewd, crude progress of their on-off relationship when they have dinner with married friends Bill Hader and Elllie Kemper, allowing Wain to flashback to saucy sex scenes, on-off romance and an effective enough subplot which pitches Rudd and Poehler against each other – he’s an executive in the mega Corporate Candy Company who intend to shut down Poehler’s oddball free-candy store. Throw in Rudd’s sexy former – but available later - lover Cobie Smulders and any amount of bitches and hitches and, having found hate at first sight, Rudd and Poehler are driven through a romance so rocky that it makes Mount Kilimanjaro seem flat by comparison…

Now that Rudd is set to join the Marvel Superheroes as Ant Man, the chances of a sequel to this scattershot but embarrassingly amusing show are probably nil. Pity. Like Airplane!, another Wain-generated tsunami of defiantly un-PC humour showcasing Rudd and Poehler might be just as disgraceful but also a good low-down laugh generator.

Nobody involved on both sides of the camera appears to believe they are doing anything more than delivering bawdy blush-making hit-and-miss (with happily far more hits) show that is more sex comedy than regulation romcom.

There’s more taste in bottled Alpine spring water. Long before Rudd and Poehler meet cute – both dressed, complete with bald hairpiece, as Benjamin Franklin for a Halloween party – Wain has established the insolently low tone of the proceedings. I’m embarrassed to say I laughed long and often but that’s Show Business.

Fortune-cookie-style gags abound. My favourite was “The point of love is to be laid” and Wain and Rudd score when the latter’s stolen line “I’ll have what she’s having” deliberately falls flat.

The leads are well supported all round, with Christopher Meloni dropping his hard-ass “Law and Order: SVU” image to good farcical effect, notably when he soils his superhero Halloween costume and Ed Helms adds to the fun.

A key line makes the point that New York City "is like another character" and Wain uses his Big Apple to excellent effect, unlike, say, John Carney in his Keira Knightley misfire Begin Again.

I can see why positive reviews are probably rarer than critical praise for an Adam Sandler film – Hader describes New York’s Sunday Times as “nothing but a worthless yellow rag”.

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
83 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 05 Sep 2014