As it's Galentine's Day, this review can appear here today.
Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd star in this spoof of romantic comedies that manages to have its cake and eat it, thanks to the mix of smart gags, fun performances, and moments of extreme silliness.
Poehler is Molly, a typical rom-com lead. She's a bit of a klutz, runs a little candy store, and is mostly content with her life. Rudd is Joel, also a typical rom-com lead. He's "handsome, but in a nonthreatening way. Vaguely but not overtly Jewish." He also works for CRS, a major company that's just about to potentially put Molly out of business. The course of true love is not destined to be smooth for this couple, and the film shows their ups and downs.
Directed by David Wain, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Showalter, this gets everything right when it comes to emulating the style of the movies being spoofed. New York is a major character, as pointed out a number of times, the protagonists start off by disliking one another, assorted friends are pigeonholed as nothing more than varying viewpoints for the leads to use as sounding boards, there's a montage or two, and the climax involves a bit of a race against the clock, a standard for most rom-coms.
This is all well and good, but the masterstroke comes from the fact that the movie is presented as a tale being told by Molly and Joel while they enjoy a dinner date with two friends, Karen (Ellie Kemper) and Kyle (Bill Hader). This allows for plenty of comments on the unfolding events, and also one or two details that we discover may simply be the result of overactive imaginations.
Poehler and Rudd are both perfect in their roles, of course, and Hader and Kemper both have fun either pointing out, or sometimes missing, the obvious while being told this particular love story. Jason Mantzoukas and Melanie Lynskey play the two friends who think that they're about to bring two lovely people together to form one lovely couple, Teyonah Parris is the one woman working for Molly who also offers helpful advice, and there are a few great cameos to make you smile. Christopher Meloni is the big boss at CRS, and shows once again how great he is at comedy, Michael Ian Black is a grade-A douchebag (and a lot of fun with it), Cobie Smulders is the girl with Rudd at the very start of the movie, and Ed Helms is someone who may try to win over Poehler's character, despite not really having any chemistry with her. At all.
Not all of the gags hit, which is almost inevitable in a comedy like this, but you're never far away from something that could make you laugh out loud. Fans of those involved will certainly have a good time, and fans of romantic comedies may also find that there's still enough here to keep them amused, even as the conventions and cliches are being mocked at every turn.