Let's face it. Romantic comedies are easy targets for lampoons and parodies. Yet, David Wain's suggestively titled "They Came Together" never goes for the jugular when it comes to exposing the innate, formulaic dumbness of the genre.
So, instead of being the "Airplane" of romantic comedy deconstructions, Wain's movie approximates a Wayans brothers' riff on haunted house films (such as "Haunted House") where mere allusions to genre clichés become the joke, but outside of context, not extremely potent ones.
Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler buff their characters as best they can as Joel and Molly, on a double date with Ellie Kemper's and Bill Hader's unsuspecting dinner companions.
For their captive audience, Joel and Molly go over the highs and lows of their romance (cue the "You've Got Mail!" references), starting with her tiny candy shop struggling against his giant candy corporation across the street.
Wain stuffs the cast with a lot of underused talent here -- Chicago's Michael Shannon, Ed Helms, Kenan Thompson, Melanie Lynskey, Christopher Meloni -- and still, "They Came Together" (reportedly shot in 20 days) has the feel of a never-ending "SNL" skit.
We really have seen this movie before, especially the "surprise" music video parody, done first and better back in 1988's "The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad." Only Leslie Nielsen never thought it necessary to wink at the camera.
"They Came Together" opens at the Music Box in Chicago. Rated R for language, sexual situations. 83 minutes. ★ ½