There are some wonderful actors whose hard work goes mostly for naught in David Wain’s fitfully amusing They Came Together. Romantic comedy is a genre more than ready for the kind of spoofing that Airplane! brought to disaster films, but while this effort scores occasionally with the kind of nutty tropes that romantic comedy writers have been trading on for decades, the results are sporadic, and the film runs out of steam long before it ends. This idea might have been better served as a fifteen-minute Saturday Night Live sketch.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 1 Hr. 23 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, UltraVioletkeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 09/02/2014
Telling their twisting, unpredictable love story to their married friends (Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper), Joel (Paul Rudd) and Molly (Amy Poehler) talk about break-ups with their respective lovers (Cobie Smulders for him, Jeffrey Dean Morgan for her along with an ex-husband played by Michael Shannon) and their own meet cute (in identical Ben Franklin costumes) and subsequent idyllic courtship period, misunderstanding and break-up, and eventual reconciliation with other occasional speed bumps along the way.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
Think about any predictable element from a typical romantic comedy like You’ve Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle, and you can likely find a corresponding element in the script by director David Wain and Michael Showalter (concerned best friend, wacky and shiftless little brother, a calculating and unscrupulous co-worker, an eccentric boss seemingly lacking a heart, nerdy folks on the sidelines ready to step in to claim someone’s love, large corporations feeding on mom and pop establishments, and New York City in the fall as a backdrop). The film makes use of all of those ingredients in fashioning this motley stew of hilarity and tedium. Some of the nutty comic ideas really work beautifully – a wailing saxophone on the soundtrack setting the mood as the protagonist sadly walks the streets after discovering his unfaithful girl friend turns out to be someone on a street corner playing that music, a give-and-take repetition between Joel and a literal bartender, some subtitles explaining looks between co-workers get sneezed onto a conference table, a typical idyllic romp in the New York autumn leaves for our newly smitten couple reveals a leaf-covered dead body a few feet away that they don’t notice, a soundtrack song by Norah Jones morphs into a full music video interrupting the action and containing the stars playing themselves watching the performance of the song and people like Adam Scott and John Stamos on the crew, Joel’s eventual realization of opening his own coffee place – but these delights don’t come often enough (in Airplane! there was something freshly insane every few seconds), and the film even at 83 minutes seems too long to support this overly precious, delicately screwball kind of controlled farce. And when the writers have to stoop to jokes about feeling up one’s own grandmother (a game Lynn Cohen) or a Halloween costume the victim of uncontrollable diarrhea, you know they’re struggling to fill in the time.
Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler are both accomplished comic actors, but here they seem a bit too in-on-the-joke and play the absurdities with poker-faced restraint that eats into their comic timing and reactions. More enjoyable are Max Greenfield as Joel’s shiftless brother and Michael Ian Black as Joel’s interoffice rival Trevor. Cobie Smulders doesn’t get to be very funny as the cheating girl friend nor is Christopher Meloni as Joel’s boss allowed to go wild in the same way he did in director Wain’s previous Wet Hot American Summer. Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper likewise have rather weak comic material in the bookend sequences. And people like Ed Helms and Ken Marino who can be very funny with the right material get let down here.
The film has been framed at 1.78:1 for this release and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Color is very good with exceptionally believable skin tones, and sharpness while generally excellent is occasionally less than optimum. Black levels are outstanding with first-rate shadow detail. Contrast has been applied with consistency. The film has been divided into 16 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix betrays the small budgeted nature of this project. While the music by Craig Werden and Matt Novack gets wrapped through the entire soundfield, the New York City ambiance is simply not consistently featured in the fronts and rears with only occasional split effects present. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Audio Commentary: director-writer David Wain and co-writer Michael Showalter share the commentary track gleefully praising their cast and crew and admitting to their nutty senses of humor that aren’t for all tastes.
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
They All Came Together (23:59, HD): director David Wain and writer Michael Showalter, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, and Amy Poehler discuss the origins of the project (more than a decade ago) and the difficulty of getting it made. Featured are excerpts from the San Francisco Sketchfest table read that got the project a producer and the unveiling at Sundance to an enthusiastic audience.
Deleted Scenes (34:23, HD): thirty-one scenes have been combined in a lengthy montage for this release.
San Francisco Sketchfest Table Read (1:43:58, SD): held on January 22, 2012, this table read of the entire script (with many but not all of the eventual film cast) gets a hysterical reception which led to the project getting funded.
Theatrical Trailer (2:24, HD)
Promo Trailers (HD): Girl Most Likely, The Switch, Draft Day, My Man Is a Loser.
Ultraviolet Digital Copy: code sheet enclosed in the case.
One of those comedies which will be adored by some and abhorred by others, They Came Together is a mixed bag comic spoof of a genre that certainly deserves skewering. The Blu-ray contains an excellent transfer and a rich set of bonus features that the film’s fans are sure to enjoy.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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