Mel Brooks perfected the art of the “spoof” because he understood that it was all about the skewering of the genre itself, not just re-enacting famous scenes from films in the zeitgeist with different actors in the iconic roles.
If you don’t know what I’m referring to, just take a look at the multitudes of modern “spoof” movies that have been cranked out almost every year starting with SCARY MOVIE (2000) all the way up to last year’s A HAUNTED HOUSE (2013). These films have lost the raison d’etre (aka reason for existence), which is supposed to be exposing the irony or hilarity of genre conventions. Simply recreating a moment shot-per-shot does not constitute parody; it’s just lazy comedy. A truly gifted filmmaker gets to the heart of the cliché and exposes it through irreverent satire.
Director/Comedian David Wain (WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER) brings his talent to the romantic comedy genre in THEY CAME TOGETHER a lampooning of the tired genre that is not only skillfully executed, but had me laughing my ass off for most of it’s scant 83 min. running time.
Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) recount their “romantic/comedy-like” courtship to friends Kyle (Bill Hader) and Karen (Ellie Kemper) over the course of a couple’s night out. Shown in a series of flashbacks (that most of the time boarder on TMI), we are privy to the entire breadth of their “on again/off again” relationship.
Molly owns a quaint mom & pop candy store where all profits go to charity while Joel works for a multi-national candy conglomerate that has set its sights on wiping out all the competition. Of course, all Joel REALLY wants is to open up a coffee house called “Cup of Joel” and share his life with a special woman.
Every trite cliché is given a solid punch to the gut and there are moments that are so spot-on and biting that pure comedy gold is spun by the barrelful.
Some viewers may not truly get the depth of the satire and not every joke hits the target, but for someone like me (who was raised a sarcastic son-of-a-bitch), THEY CAME TOGETHER was such a pleasure watching and I enjoyed myself more so than during the “so-called” comedic movies they were mocking.