“Together Together” opens with a brilliant comic scene in which a nerdish single man interviews a quirky female job candidate about carrying his child.
It’s a classic meet-cute moment for a romantic comedy. But this poignant surrogacy story centers on platonic love, not romance; and it ultimately plays like a drama, not a comedy.
This upending of genre expectations is not an accident, even if the movie could have used more of the droll humor found in its dazzling initial frames. Fortunately, the high points — and there are several — make the film worthwhile viewing, especially a breathtaking finale that will linger in the minds of those who watch.
The unlucky-in-love Matt (Ed Helms), a well-to-do app developer in San Francisco, is now 45 and feels that his window of opportunity for fatherhood is quickly closing. He finds a solution in twenty-something surrogate mother Anna (Patti Harrison), a hip coffee shop worker who needs money for college. Both of these folks are loners in their own way, and don’t seem to have a lot of friends in their orbit.
In the first trimester of the pregnancy (each of the film’s three acts is labeled a trimester,) writer-director Nikole Beckwith keeps things light. Matt micromanages Anna’s every move, to dryly amusing effect, while Anna engages in efforts to keep the pregnancy a secret, even though her changing body is bound to declassify the information. Helms and Harrison have a natural comic chemistry, and at first, the proceedings move breezily along.
But by the halfway point, the film loses its comic edge. Beckwith is determined to avoid cheap laughs and sentimentality, a wise choice, but the dramatic tension, such as it is, doesn’t always fill the vacuum.
“Together Together” is populated with talented comic actors — Tig Notaro, Nora Dunn and Sufe Bradshaw, to name a few — but oddly enough, they aren’t given anything funny to do, or even enough material to advance the story.
The only supporting character to break through is the hilariously biting Julio Torres, who plays a caustic barista at Anna’s coffee shop. Torres unexpectedly embodies the moral conscience of the film, and his seriocomic performance reminds us what could have been in the scenes that are lacking.
“Together Together” hits its low point when Anna goes on a rant about Woody Allen and his predilections for younger women, schooling Matt on the reasons that their intergenerational relationship must have its boundaries. It’s a disastrous scene, neither dramatic nor funny, and it almost submarines the movie.
Beckwith, though, rallies with some memorable moments in the third trimester and nails the climactic scene with gut-wrenching efficiency. Her movie stays afloat because of Harrison (watch out for her in the future) and Helms, who both deliver a fitting finale that’s revelatory and emotionally satisfying.
M“Together Together”: Comedy. Starring Ed Helms, Patti Harrison. Directed by Nikole Beckwith (R. 90 minutes.) Opens in Bay Area theaters on Friday, April 23.
Reviewed By This Is Article About Review: Ed Helms, Patti Harrison headline poignant surrogacy story in ‘Together, Together’ was posted on have 5 stars rating.