Grade: C-

Directed by David Wain
Starring Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper

Despite the comedy prowess of its stars Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, They Came Together can't get its act straight. It's a disjointed parody of a genre that already takes itself too seriously.  Before you completely chop my head off, I get that it's a parody. Sadly, it just doesn't quite work.

Poehler stars as Molly, a saccharine sweet New Yorker who spends her days managing the cutesy candy shop she owns in downtown Manhattan. Rudd stars as Joel, an exec who works at the "big corporate candy company" that towers over her small street with its large skyscraper. The two meet by happenstance at a mutual friend's Halloween party (where they both show up dressed as Benjamin Franklin) and do not hit it off from the start. Only through romantic-comedy glasses do the two finally find something wondrous about each other.

The premise sounds cheesy, but the follow through has a lot of potential. That is, until the awkward direction from David Wain makes things feel too slapstick at certain points (a man literally almost falls out of a skyscraper window) and too literal at others. It's as if the Wayans brothers decided to make a spoof of romantic comedies. Oh wait, didn't they do that? The only plus here is the valiant effort by Poehler to hold things together. She has a voice and face and demeanor that can make you chuckle at even the cheesiest of jokes. Rudd tries, but ends up taking too much screen time.

There are cameos galore throughout the comedy and I have to at least acknowledge the great one-liners and scenes that actually do work. Max Greenfield provides a refreshing light in the midst of the awkward gloom. This is one of those films that has all of the ingredients of a great time, there's just something fishy about the way they were all placed together. Maybe if Wain had a clearer focus in what he was trying to do, it would all come together in a much better fashion. You'd think the director of a classic comedy like Wet Hot American Summer would be able to do that.

In the spirit of not sounding too cynical or harsh, there are enough laughs to make this a decent choice if there's nothing better. Poehler is interesting and funny enough to carry each and every one of her scenes. There's little reward at the end, but if you want a carefree comedy at the end of a hectic work week, They Came Together isn't the worst choice you could make.

Rating: R
Runtime: 83 minutes

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