Sundance comedies don’t need to always break new ground. They can easily be successes if they just effectively execute the formulas that have come before. Together Together is one such example of that. Narratively, there’s very little here that we haven’t seen before (save for one quirk in the premise). The execution is where it stands out, offering a warm and funny look at friendship and non-sexual love. In that regard, it’s an unqualified success. The movie follows a familiar path, but does so in a way that never sacrifices insight and entertainment value. In doing so, it becomes one of the more charming flicks playing this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
Together Together does notably have one unique thing going in its favor, and its something worthy of acclaim. Comedian and star Patti Harrison, a trans talent, plays a cisgender character. Furthermore, no attention is called to this. It’s simply an actress doing her job. While that shouldn’t be noteworthy, our culture is only slowly warming up to this, so it is. Still, kudos to all involved for making such a brave choice, as Harrison is unquestionably the right person for the job.
In a role-reversal, Matt (Ed Helms) is looking for someone to carry his baby. Interviewing young women, the middle-aged app designer takes a perhaps unlikely shine to 26-year-old Anna (Harrison). He selects here to become his gestational surrogate, though their expectations for the role are very different. Anna is hoping for some good karma in the universe, as well as some much needed money. Matt, on the other hand, begins to continually insert himself into her life. At first, she’s annoyed, but slowly, his relentless enthusiasm and interest in her well-being starts to charm her.
As the trimesters progress, Anna and Matt bicker, but also grow closer. Loners in their life before meeting, they’re unlikely friends, but also kindred spirits. Knowing that there’s almost certainly a finite time period for this companionship only makes their surprising bond grow deeper. Seeing aspects of each other’s lives that they’d prefer stay hidden, it becomes clear how much this means for both of them.
Patti Harrison and Ed Helms have classic chemistry here. Not only are they on point, the supporting cast is, too. Nora Dunn, Fred Melamed, Tig Notaro, Julio Torres, and more have small roles, yet all ace them completely. Helms is admittedly playing a version of the character he always plays, but he’s narrowed it down to a science. As for Harrison, she’s a revelation, providing bitingly funny remarks as easily as she confesses to tender dramatic ones. It’s a full performance that is the complete highlight of the project. Whenever we’re focused just on her, things are on a whole other level here.
Writer/director Nikole Beckwith finds the human moments in her movie, without fail. This flick could have been slapstick or zany, but Beckwith instead just makes it feel real. Whatever visual style she lacks is more than made up for with a screenplay that just oozes charm. Essentially, she’s putting forth a likable vibe that makes an enjoyable film go down quite easily.
Together Together doesn’t reinvent the wheel, that’s for sure. Instead, it finds all the honesty it can in its premise and presents a lovely comedy with charm to spare. The human element is on full display, making this one of the more heartwarming titles at Sundance this year. Look for it to get picked up soon, as this one has some crossover appeal!