Nikole Beckwith’s Together Together isn’t a romantic comedy about a pregnancy, but a comedy that happens to involve a pregnancy. There’s a big difference. Here is a film that draws its gentle humor not from a couple struggling to re-define their roles in the world during and after childbirth, but from a couple just trying to define themselves, period. The fights aren’t about unusual food craving pangs or the lack of sex. They’re about establishing boundaries and the subtle art of compromise.
And there’s a good reason why Together Together strays from the normal template and delivers gracious comedy and bittersweet truths. Its primary couple- played to perfection by the always awkwardly funny Ed Helms and Patti Harrison- is because….well…. they’re not a couple at all.
In the opening scene, Matt (Helms) is interviewing Anna (Harrison) as if she were trying to get a job in his office. And in a unique way, she is. We come to learn that Anna is willing to be a surrogate for single and divorced Matt. Their agreement (which they sign in triplicate and study up on later in the film to great effect) posits that she’ll carry his donated sperm and another doner’s eggs to childbirth. It’s a straight-forward business agreement that only becomes complicated as the two come to admire and like each other….. but not in the way one would expect.
Unfurling at a leisurely pace and well acted by Helms and Harrison who both show a generous undercurrent of varied emotions, Together Together constantly upends the romance comedy by asking unique questions. If only one person wants to know the gender of the baby, how do they rectify that? Of course, since this is a strict no emotions-attached deal for Anna, she wants no part of the child after her duty is completed. They settle on the amorphous name of “Lamp” when speaking about the baby. How involved should she be with things like picking out the baby crib or decorating the nursery room walls? And, most awkwardly, what does she tell a friend of her sister’s who runs into her at a maternity store when her family knows nothing about the arrangement?
Newcomer Harrison handles all of this with comedic grace, no doubt leaning on her stand up comedy background and announcing herself as a sparkling new talent in film. Secondary characters add texture to the film as well, most notably Sufe Bradshaw (of Veep fame) as the very confused maternity nurse privy to many of Anna and Matt’s oblique conversations and Anna’s coffee shop co-worker Jules (Julio Torres). Instead of being the usual happy support group for the couple, they serve as obstacles getting in the way of a business deal. It’s all quite funny and deftly handled.
In fact, there’s barely a wrong turn in the entire film that could have gone astray in so many directions. Instead, it’s low-key, warm, humane, and ends on such a perfect note. It’s only fitting we want much more than the nine months we’re given with Matt and Anna, and can only wonder what happens after the fade to black.
Together Together opens in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on Friday April 23rd. It will be available on all digital VOD platforms beginning May 11th.