Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Cobie Smulders, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper
Michael Showalter and David Wain
He Came... She Came... They Both Came.
When Joel and Molly meet, it's hate at first sight: his big Corporate Candy Company threatens to shut down her quirky indie shop. Plus, Joel is hung up on his sexy ex. But amazingly, they fall in love, until they break up about two thirds of the way through.
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 84 min.
Release Date: 9/2/2014
• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer David Wain and Producer/Co-Writer Michael Showalter
• “They All Came Together” Featurette
• “San Francisco Sketchfest Table Read”
• Deleted Scenes
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They Came Together [Blu-Ray] (2014)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 25, 2014)
With 2014’s They Came Together, we get a spoof of the romantic comedy genre. Set in the Big Apple, Molly (Amy Poehler) runs her own quirky independent candy store, while Joel (Paul Rudd) works for the huge Candy Systems & Research corporation. They meet on the way to a costume party and take an instant dislike to each other.
However, when they bump into each other again at a bookstore, they start to find romance. This runs into a variety of obstacles, though, especially when CSR plans to open a new super store right across the street from Molly’s Upper Sweet Side NYC. We follow their romantic ups and downs.
I was tempted to use the plot synopsis on the Blu-ray’s case because it may offer the first time I’ve seen one that reveals the movie’s ending. Should we consider this “spoiler” territory? Probably not – since the movie focuses so heavily on the tropes of the romantic comedy genre, the predictable story and finale feel like they’re par for the course.
On the positive side, I appreciate the fact that Together avoids the format common for modern parodies. When 2006’s Date Movie took on the same subject matter, it did so in the manner typical of 21st century spoofs. This meant it did little more than lift scenes from existing flicks and give them tiny twists in an attempt to make them funny.
Although it calls back to famous rom-coms like Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail, Together doesn’t simply regurgitate scenes from those flicks. Instead, it prefers to mock the common traits of the genre, and that opens up the tale to a more creative form of humor.
Together also features a top-notch cast. In addition to Rudd and Poehler, we find a mix of talents like Bill Hader, Ellie Kemper, Ed Helms and many others. We even find some fun cameos at the story’s end. The actors invest in the material well and deliver laughs with their performances.
Occasional laughs, that is, as despite its good approach to the subject and strong cast, Together doesn’t quite succeed. Even with a brief 84-minute running time, the inspiration fizzles well before the movie ends. The better feature-length parodies like This Is Spinal Tap or Young Frankenstein work because they succeed on their own as movies. Of course, if you remove the laughs, they become less interesting, but they still boast solid narrative construction.
That doesn’t occur for Together. It focuses so heavily on the clichés found in rom-coms that it doesn’t bother to create its own real story line. Granted, that seems to be part of the point; the movie wants to mock the silly plot devices of rom-coms so it features a bunch of them in short succession.
Unfortunately, this technique robs the movie of much of its potential effectiveness. We bounce from one random genre trope to another with such abandon that the film threatens to feel like a collection of sketches and not a fully realized narrative. This approach doesn’t ruin Together, but it makes the film less enjoyable than it could’ve been if it’d followed a more concise path.
I think Together also suffers due to its utter lack of sincerity. Because the movie constantly winks at the audience and views its characters as basic clichés, nothing that happens ever matters to us, and that’s a problem. If the filmmakers see the roles as nothing more than pawns for mockery, then the viewer will feel the same way.
When you look at successful spoofs like the Austin Powers films, they engage us because we take an interest in their events and participants. As goofy as Austin and others may have seemed, the flicks gave them humanity and heart.
None of that occurs here. This doesn’t mean that I think Together needs to get mushy on us – I’m fine with its cynicism – but I do feel it’d benefit from characters about whom we at least kind of sort of care. The folks here maintain such an arch, ironic distance that they never evolve into anything more than conglomerations of clichés.
They Came Together boasts too much talent to turn into a clunker, and it generates a decent number of laughs. Nonetheless, it feels like it squanders its potential strengths too much of the time. While it delivers some enjoyable moments, it loses steam too early and peters out the longer it runs.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B+
They Came Together appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a solid visual presentation.
From start to finish, sharpness looked strong. Only the slightest hint of softness affected wide shots, and those examples occurred too infrequently to cause problems. Instead, the film looked concise and well-defined. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. I also failed to detect any source flaws.
In terms of colors, the movie featured a palette that favored a golden tone. Across the board, the hues looked positive, as they showed nice clarity and breadth and came out well. Blacks were dark and deep, while shadows appeared clear and smooth. I thought the movie consistently looked great.
I thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Together seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides. Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, but most of the movie stayed with limited imaging.
Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score and songs showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.
Despite the movie’s low profile, the Blu-ray comes with a pretty substantial collection of extras. We open with an audio commentary from director/co-writer David Wain and producer/co-writer Michael Showalter, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They discuss the project's roots and development, story/character/script areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, editing and deleted scenes, music and connected topics.
Wain and Showalter deliver a consistently satisfying commentary. They spice up the proceedings with light humor but also make sure we get a lot of good details about the production. The track moves well and provides an engaging, worthwhile chat.
During the 23-minute, 59-second They All Came Together, we hear from Wain, Showalter, director of photography Tom Houghton, and actors Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Michael Ian Black, Christopher Meloni, Max Greenfield, Jason Mantzoukas and Ellie Kemper. The piece looks at the movie’s origins and development, story/character areas, sets and locations, visual design and cinematography, cast and performances, and the construction of the final film. “All” gives us a good overview of the production and becomes an enjoyable piece.
The San Francisco Sketchfest Table Read lasts one hour, 43 minutes, and 58 seconds. As discussed in “All”, this staging occurred before the movie got the greenlight, so it gives us a semi-rough version of the tale with a lot of alternate actors; for instance, Zandy Hartig plays Molly here, while Poehler portrays friend Wanda. Fans of the flick will be happy to check out this take on the material.
32 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 34 minutes, 23 seconds. That’s a whole lot of footage, and much of it offers unique material. While we get some extensions and alternate takes, we also find a fair amount of new situations and jokes. For instance, we see an entire deleted subplot in which Jake and Wanda date. This becomes a fun compilation of clips.
The disc opens with ads for Girl Most Likely, The Switch, Draft Day and My Man Is a Loser. We also find the trailer for Together.
With a terrific cast on-board, They Came Together manages occasional amusement. However, it comes with such a thin premise that it can’t sustain our attention, even with a brief 84-minute running time. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals as well as acceptable audio and a strong collection of bonus materials. Parts of the film entertain but it lacks consistency.
Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6666 Stars
| Number of Votes: 3