April 23rd, 2021
MOVIE: TOGETHER TOGETHER
STARRING: ED HELMS, PATTI HARRISON, NORA DUNN, TIG NOTARO
DIRECTED BY: NIKOLE BECKWITH
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
At the start of Together Together, I thought I was in for an annoying, twinkly Sundance style film that wants to make us feel bubbly inside. With a bit of time and patience, Nikole Beckwith’s film won me over, not just with a pair of charming lead actors, but with a resilience to never sugar coat the reality of the situation. It involves Matt (Ed Helms) and Anna (Patti Harrison), a pair of loners in the world, looking for more substance in life, and Matt has decided to become a dad, hiring Anna to be his surrogate. Together Together takes us on the journey of this pregnancy, how the two of them get along in the process, and all the fears of a new life on the way. Together Together is an endearing dramatic comedy, focusing on an unlikely companionship, and how two people can come together to make something beautiful.
What surprised me most about Together Together is that it’s not a good comedy, in fact my major quarrel is that it should have ditched the comedic beats altogether. What does work is the incredible honesty in every character and the unpredictability. At every turn in the narrative, which was also written by Beckwith, when you think it is going to become the standard rom-com of two opposites falling in love, it immediately turns the other way. Matt is an online app inventor, in his 40’s, living alone, and defeated by relationships that left him heartbroken. He didn’t think about surrogacy, but he certainly wanted to be a dad, and we learn he reached a point where that need grew stronger. Then we meet Anna, played delightfully by Harrison, with hairs curling down her face, often calm, but with an adorable smirk on her face. It’s her story that leaves a bigger impact, where her parents disowned her for being knocked up at 16, having an abortion, and never being given the forgiveness she deserves. As Anna says, “she would be miserable with the baby, so her parents would have only been happy if she was miserable.” Being the surrogate was the easy decision, but the process of growing closer to Matt, and forever being a part of his life is what makes Together Together psychologically intriguing.
For movies of this nature, it is a topic that has been covered before, in a film such as Baby Mama, which featured Amy Poehler as a surrogate for Tina Fey. The other film that came to mind watching Together Together was Knocked Up, not on the side of immature man-childs being faced with a responsibility, but a story of opposites coming together. It’s the gender switches that makes Together Together intriguing and enlightening. Helm’s does an excellent job of being the excited and supportive partner, stepping away from his typical geeky characters, and playing a man that genuinely wants to be a parent. The other side is Harrison, who is also playing the atypical character, as a woman handling the responsibility of carrying the child, but conflicted in the reality that she isn’t interested in all the maternal aspects that come with it. It is these subverted characteristics that makes Together Together a delight. It has no intention of making these two fall in love, but staying in their lanes, and becoming great partners in this process.
As for the direction, narratively it’s a different style for Beckwith, slowing things down from her debut thriller Stockholm, Pennsylvania. There’s an impressive talent here, writing and directing an original film, with dialogue that is sharp. It’s not perfect, even the screenplay takes steps back when the cast tries to improvise the humor, especially Anna’s co-worker Jules (Julio Torres), who’s periodic jabs never land a laugh. But the supporting cast is relatively sweet, including Nora Dunn and the always delightful Fred Melamed as Matt’s parents. I also couldn’t get enough of the best supporting performance from Sufe Bradshaw, as a sarcastic ultrasound technician. She deserves her own movie separate from Together Together.
By the end, Together Together hits the right mark, telling a similar story from an entirely fresh angle. Cinematically, there’s even an ending that holds a shot that hits the emotional center it deserves. And as a father, I found it refreshing to see a story about someone who wants to be a dad, someone who relishes in the role. It’s also positive to see a story about a woman that isn’t molding to the stereotypical maternal role, a true independent person, and a rising talent in Harrison. Together Together takes a minute to come around, but the final result is a charming bundle of joy.
TOGETHER TOGETHER IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS APRIL 23RD.
Written by: Leo Brady