Parody or spoof movies are possibly the worst genre of movie being churned out today, but it’s not the genre’s fault. In fact, before the Wayans Brothers ruined it for everyone, and before the endless dribble of “Not Another…” movies managed to go even lower, the parody movie was actually a pretty sure thing for some solid laughs.
The Naked Gun movies perfectly spoofed cop shows and made for some of the funniest comedies of late 80s and early 90s. In 1980, Airplane! was such a successful and hilarious take on the 70s disaster movie, it’s more famous and enduring today than the genre it spoofed. And it’s the spirit of Airplane and The Naked Gun that makes They Came Together the best parody, spoof, joke machine movie in a long, long time.
Paul Rudd is Joel, described in the movie as, “none threateningly handsome and vaguely Jewish”. Amy Pohler is Molly, “the kind of cute, klutzy girl that can drive you a little bit crazy”. At dinner with two friends, Joel and Molly tell the story of how they met, and the movie flashes back. Sound a little clichéd? That’s the point.
They Came Together takes every romantic comedy trick and trope, and wears it proudly on its sleeve. Pohler owns an implausibly whimsical candy store in the middle of New York that seems to have absolutely no viable business model for making a cent of profit. Rudd works for a large candy conglomerate that puts stores like Pohler’s out of business.
When they first meet, they hate each other, until they realise they’re such opposites that they just might attract. Every few minutes, a character feels the need to comment on the fact that New York City is almost its own character in this quirky story. Rudd’s friends openly state that they all represent different aspects of Rudd’s own personality relationship attitude, and if only he could embrace them all, he would have a perfectly well balanced outlook on commitment.
And that’s the difference between a good parody movie and crap one. While the Wayans Brothers lazily spoof specific moments from other movies, or whichever “celebrity” has recently melted down at the end of their fifteen minutes, a really great parody finds the broad strokes, the universal truths of a genre, the identical DNA that links them, and mines those for fresh, new jokes.
It’s no surprise that director David Wain, along with co-write Michael Showalter get it. Almost fifteen years ago, they made Wet Hot American Summer. A spoof of 80s summer camp and sex comedy movies that took the same approach. It never took specific scenes from Porkies, or Meatballs. It took the big picture of these kinds of movies, and it has since become one of the biggest modern cult movies among comedy nerds.
Here’s the problem with reviewing They Came Together, as hilarious as it is, there’s no way to even attempt getting that across without reciting some of the best jokes in it. And nothing sucks the funny out of a movie joke more than trying to write it down. So all I can say is, it’s hilarious, and you need to see it.