Tropic Sprockets / Together Together

By Ian Brockway

This warm comedy from Nikole Beckwith (Stockholm Pennsylvania) is affectionate and engaging. While it employs usual plot-points from other romantic comedies, the strength of “Together Together” comes from the spirit of the characters and its willingness to be subtle and understated.

With a masterful sense of economy, no one scene is superfluous or unnecessary.

Matt (Ed Helms) is a solitary single man with aspirations to contribute and give something to life other than himself. He interviews Anna (Patti Harrison) in the effort to find a surrogate and to have a child.

Matt hires Anna and the plan is set. Anna does not want a relationship beyond the platonic. Matt is nervous. He wants to be friends but does not know how to conduct himself.

While there have been many comedies about single lonely men, “Greenberg,” “The Lonely Guy,” and “40-Year-Old Virgin,” just to name a few, “Together Together” is unusual because it doesn’t go for any high drama or conflict. Matt is mostly calm and content with himself. He is not anguished or anxiety ridden. Matt simply wants to experience having a child.

Ed Helms, usually a comic actor in screwball comedies, shows genuine merit and restraint here, not going for big laughs or guffaws, and he has never been better. Patti Harrison is excellent. Awkward and weary but also direct and forthright, Harrison’s role is without artifice or cartoony flourish. Comedian and personality Tig Notaro has a good role as a therapist, along with SNL writer and surreal comic Julio Torres as Anna’s sarcastic confidante.

With brief and pointed scenes that are almost impressionistic, Matt and Anna evolve through small talk, Matt is not a genuine loner at the core, nor is he a popular man by any definition. Matt sees himself somewhere in the middle but he is far from a nerd.

Anna admits that life has not quite worked for her, yet she doesn’t conform. Until she becomes inspired or driven by something, Anna is content.

“Together Together” illustrates the apprehensive and insecure comic moments of life itself. The film is thoughtful and immersive and will keep you guessing until the very end with just a hint of disturbance and unease.

Write Ian at ianfree11@yahoo.com