The one-note “Together Together,” from writer / director Nikole Beckwith, is a wannabe rom-com about surrogacy. This bland, flat film is one of the most disappointing titles to screen at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, and it’s the first contender for one of the worst movies of the year.
Matt (Ed Helms) is 40 years old and has always wanted a family of his own. Single and ready for a baby, he hires twentysomething Anna (Patti Harrison) to be his surrogate. It’s reasoned that since the young woman gave up her baby in high school, she must be the perfect choice for the job (gross). Sensing Matt’s excitement about the arrival of his bundle of joy (and the fact that the pop-to-be pushes his way into her life so he can be involved as much as possible), Anna begins to spend more time with him. A platonic love affair develops, and the pair become the closest of friends.
It’s not a thoroughly bad idea for a movie, but the execution is terrible. The film is dreadfully unfunny, and there are out of place scenes (like Anna showing Matt how a tampon works, or a dinner discussion of the pro-choice movement) that land like a thud. Helms brings his usual affable, goofy charm to the role, but he and Harrison have an uneven chemistry that ends up being the film’s major downfall.
While I’m sure this wasn’t the filmmakers intention, the story, to me, borders on being offensive to women. Anna is portrayed as an emotional pawn of sorts, incapable to being completely neutral when holding up her end of the business agreement. She accepts the offer and chooses to be paid to be a surrogate, but she is so sad when she isn’t the center of attention at the baby shower. She doesn’t like that she isn’t important to Matt’s family and friends, and seems disappointed that she can’t share in the joy of having a child. This scene feels so condescending towards women because it implies that they are too emotional and incapable of separating the idea of actually being a mother versus respecting a purely transactional contract.
The story feels dated too, as it flips the idea of single motherhood and instead — wait for it — shows that gee, men can yearn to be independent dads, too! Who would’ve EVER thought THAT was possible?! Wow!
“Together Together” slogs along until the grand finale, which features the obligatory miracle of childbirth scene, and concludes with an open-ended fade to black that proves to be more of a relief than an aggravation.