Feeling he is missing out and sick of waiting for the right partner to come along, Matt (Ed Helms) decides to become a single father by way of a surrogate. After a successful interview he recruits Anna (Patti Harrison) but soon finds that her lifestyle is concerning him. As he worries about the wellbeing of his child and she tries to figure out appropriate boundaries for carrying a strangers baby, the two find themselves discovering a unique friendship.
Initially I found the humour of Together Together somewhat off-putting. Cringe is the name of the game, and the commitment to awkward conversations at all costs does mean that character’s appear to lack even basic understandings of how sentences should work. The screenplay feels rather stilted, with plenty of articulate monologues and overwrought lines of dialogue, as well as some clichés (the gay, comedic relief best friend without much going on was a trope best left in the 90s as representation moved to more robust figures).
However, what works well is the purity of the film’s heart and the commitment of it’s performers. This is a film about finding happiness in unconventional places and how the world reacts differently to men and women undertaking pregnancy alone. Comedic scenes that are driven by the film’s unique premise massively trump the ones based on contrivance and misunderstanding. It’s a progressive tale and the film is not afraid to show the bleak or troubling aspects of Matt and Anna’s arrangement. In particular the final shot of the film is fabulously ambiguous.
Throughout the film, I couldn’t help but think of Ivan Reitman’s Junior starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. That film also attempted to tell a bizarrely earnest story of an unconventional pregnancy (albeit far more unusual in Junior’s case). The comparison is very favourable to Together Together because whereas Reitman’s film derived humour from the gender-bending aspects of it’s plot, Nicole Beckwith’s film feels like a celebration of unusual families. Ed Helms examining his breastfeeding paraphernalia in a mirror may elicit some laughs from some audiences, but the film clearly regards this as a moment of pride.
The film’s strongest asset is the two lead performances. Ed Helms is delivering his trademark awkwardness but beyond the caricature is a sensitive performance of a man who is at once happy with his life and unsure of his future. He manages his moments of pathos very well. Patti Harrison is more successful with her comedic and dramatic scenes, affecting a very convincing defensive wall around herself in an effort to protect her already bruised sense of self-worth stemming from family troubles. Once the film moves away from overly “written” awkward sequences, the chemistry between the two is very involving.
Together Together is a charming and progressive portrayal of pregnancy and family. It get’s mired in the expectations of a modern American Comedy and more than once slumps into cliché, but the heart is in the right place and committed yet natural performances from the film’s lead characters is more than enough to recommend this comedy.