Producers: Anthony Brandonisio, Tim Headington and Daniela Taplin Lundberg Director: Nikole Beckwith Screenplay: Nikole Beckwith Cast: Ed Helms, Patti Harrison, Tig Notaro, Julio Torres, Anna Konkle, Timm Sharp, Evan Jonigkeit, Rosalind Chao, Sufe Bradshaw, Greta Titelman, Nora Dunn and Fred Melamed Distributor: Bleecker Street
Nikole Beckwith’s dramedy, which follows a fellow and the surrogate he hires to bear his child from initial interview to delivery, is pleasant but rather bland. You’re likely to find “Together Together” either modestly charming or more than a little forced.
Ed Helms plays Matt, a likable schlub who’s pretty well off as a result of inventing an app called Loner, which offers pictures of strangers that flash by for the user to briefly enjoy. Unlucky in love, he wants to have a kid, so decides to have one via a surrogate pregnancy. The only person we see him interviewing is Anna (Patti Harrison), one of those slightly flaky but adorable young women that proliferate in romantic comedies, and with a quick edit she’s carrying his child.
The rest of the picture sketches course of their relationship over the next nine months, dividing the incidents by trimester. They grow quite close as nervous Matt shows his controlling side, even though he’s apologetic about it. And though Anna sometimes finds his attention intrusive, she appreciates his caring spirit.
They increasingly gravitate toward one another because each is lonely. Anna is estranged from her family, while Matt, though on fairly good terms with his father (Fred Melamed) and brother (Timm Sharp), is uncomfortable around his abrasive mother (Nora Dunn). Anna’s closest friend is Jules, her gay co-worker at a coffee shop—an amusingly sharp-tongued guy who, though nicely played by Julio Torres, is really a stock character in this sort of fare.
Matt and Anna have heart-to-heart talks as they spend a lot of time together in birthing classes and the doctor’s office (where a tart aide sharply played by Anna Konkle watches them warily), but they also reveal themselves in their periodic sessions with a therapist played with deadpan aplomb by Tig Notaro. At a baby shower Anna comes to feel that perhaps they’ve gotten too close, but she relents after suggesting that they keep their distance, and before the inevitable scene where Matt rushes her to the hospital, they quietly admit their love for each other, though whether that will lead anywhere is left unclear—a good decision, since Anna’s already made a point of the disparity in their ages.
“Together Together” is a moderately engaging attempt to blend humor and seriousness in a story about surrogacy. It does, however, rely rather heavily on cliché—not just in the obligatory character of the gay best friend (even though Torres is a scene-stealer) and tart-tongued mother, but the distinction drawn between the fussy father-to-be (with Helms overdoing the tics and looks of embarrassment) and the more down-to-earth, responsible surrogate played nicely by Harrison.
One can also regret the laboriously cute elements in Beckwith’s script—most notably the decision of the part of the parents to avoid personalizing the child before birth by calling the fetus by a noncommittal term. The one they settle on is “Lamp,” and it’s used so frequently from that point on that hearing it for the umpteenth time is likely to induce a twinge of pain. One the other hand, the bits by deadpan Notaro and incisive Konkle are amusing.
The picture is nicely enough appointed, with Frank Barrera’s cinematography and Ashley Fenton’s production design more than adequate. Annette Davey’s editing (or Beckwith’s direction) occasionally seems to indulgent to the actors, and Alex Somers’ score tends to accentuate the cuteness factor, but neither is ruinous.
The result is a sort-of romantic comedy that’s watchable but not much more.