Helms and Harrison are a mismatch made in Comedy Heaven.
Ed Helms (our “Hangover” and “Office” friend) has found himself with a number of terrible comedies from “Vacation” to last year’s Hellhole “Coffee & Kareem.” There were some flicks in between that allowed him to use his talents wisely like in the animated feature “Captain Underpants” and the Ted Kennedy drama “Chappaquidick.” And after last year’s bomb, he’s back to his full potential with “Together Together,” an independent comedy that cuts back on his tradition and gives him a more sentimental vibe.
He also has a fresh connection with Patti Harrison, whose acting credits include “A Simple Favor” and “Raya and the Last Dragon,” and is a staff writer on “Big Mouth.” Helms is Matt, an app designer in his 40s who wants a baby, while Harrison is Anna, a cynical and depressed loner who becomes his surrogate.
These two characters are different, and that’s usually how romantic comedies make us like them. Although it’s not much of a romantic comedy, it does have a sweetness and a sense of humor that delivers. It’s all balanced by moods and tones, which distinguish the actors and their characters from the other characters they have played before in other films.
Among their disagreements, Matt tells his divorced parents (Fred Melamed and Nora Dunn), but Anna prefers to keep the pregnancy to herself. He tells her not to have sex with other men, but she tells him not to tell her that (especially since her dates would wear condoms). They both visit their marriage councilor Madeline (Tig Notaro) to discuss their aspects of the trimesters.
These two mismatched characters are alone for different reasons. Matt didn’t have the romantic chemistry he dreamed of in the past, while Anna was labeled the black sheep of her religious family for having a baby and giving it up for adoption. They both acknowledge that things don’t always work out. That’s the truth in life.
The running gag, presented in a deadpan manner, regards Anna making “eww” remarks when strangers think she and Matt are together, when she’s just his surrogate. And they ask is it wrong for a single man or woman to have a baby. And Anna’s gay co-worker (Julio Torres) talks to her about how she and Matt are capable of creating a world of intimacy.
“Together Together” has a little “Knocked Up” inside, and Helms and Harrison undergo the routine conflicts as Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl did in that movie. And yet, in both pregnancy comedies, in spite of their characters’ differences, they eventually come around and see eye-to-eye with one another. Kudos to writer/director Nikole Beckwith for guiding these two talents on the right path and for portraying likable characters with similarities and differences.
It does lag at times, but most of the way through, you’re able to see the chemistry between Helms and Harrison, and you ponder on where they’re going to go in their lives. Will they become a married couple or just friends? Anything is possible, and you hope the best for them. I can’t wait to see more of Harrison, and as for Helms, he’s back.