They Came Together ★★½

It's one thing to make a facsimile of a bad movie. It's quite another to imitate mediocrity, as David Wain and Michael Showalter do here. As ambitions go, that's far more perverse and exciting than mere intentional ineptitude. They Came Together nails the music, the montages, and the too-smiley performances of a hacky romcom. You want plotting that needlessly convoluted and bluntly telegraphed? It's all here, driven along by wafer-thin characters, and blanketed with a constant meta-commentary on the film's own vacuity. Winks are piled on top of nods, which can get a little exhausting, especially when they're interspersed with cartoonish non sequiturs.

Of course, you know how comedy works. I describe They Came Together as "only fitfully funny"; maybe you say it has "nonstop laughs." I chuckled lightly at the bartender bit, at Christopher Meloni's struggle with his Halloween costume, and at Michael Shannon popping up with a katana, but none of those gags hit me right here [indicates funnybone]. Mostly I enjoyed Rudd and Poehler's vapid grins. The fact that they could plausibly play a couple in a "real" romcom yet were here putting daffy spins on so many of the subgenre's foibles lent some real venom to the satire. I've seen critics call this an "affectionate parody," but my favorite jokes hewed closer to contempt.