Summertime is peak season for weddings and every couple of years, Hollywood cranks out a wedding-themed comedy that turns out to be a hit amongst the action-packed blockbusters and kid-friendly animated fare that dominate theaters. Movies like My Best Friend’s Wedding, Wedding Crashers and The Hangover have provided a balance of comedy and heart set to the tune of matrimony and the all-to-familiar hysteria that goes along with wedding days. This year, MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES attempts to fill this quota and doesn’t come anywhere near the hilarity or emotional connection of its predecessors.
Based on the “book” by brothers Mike and Dave Stangle, the movie is self explanatory: Mike and Dave need wedding dates. Workaholics star Adam Devine plays Mike while oily variety bohunk Zac Efron steps into the role of the little brother Dave. Because of their reckless behavior at past family events, their family tells them that they need to bring wedding dates to their sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding because that will somehow prevent them from getting wild and crazy. Lacking basic social skills and wherewithal to meet women, they post an ad on Craigslist searching for wedding dates which goes viral and makes them Internet famous.
Enter Alice (Anna Kendrick), who is emotionally unstable after being left at the altar, and her wild, crazy and scheming BFF Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza). After getting fired from their jobs, the two see Mike and Dave’s proposition as an opportunity for a vacation so they give themselves a “good girl” makeover and win the hearts of the brothers. They head off to Hawaii for the wedding which leads to a series of standard shenanigans and hilarious misunderstandings that make for an unfocused comedy that thinks its funnier than it really is.
Director Jake Szymanski has proven he can handle comedy, helming episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, NTSF:SD:SUV and generous amount of Saturday Night Live sketches. Writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien penned Neighbors and its sequel Sorority Rising, while the starring quartet of Efron, Devine, Kendrick, and Plaza should guarantee comedy gold. On paper, Mike and David should be something as enjoyable as Wedding Crashers, but instead it becomes another example of what happens when perfectly good talent end up in a bad movie.
Efron proved himself as a comedic talent in Neighbors and, to go further back, the highly underrated 17 Again but has had a string of comedy misfires with That Awkward Moment and Dirty Grandpa. In Mike and Dave, Devine (a.k.a. Jack Black 2.0) brings the best out of him and the two have an undeniable chemistry and an off-center physical resemblance as brothers. As for Kendrick and Plaza, they lay it on thick as down-on-their-luck girls looking to take advantage of two dim-witted guys. For the four actors, the effort seems forced and labored as if a clueless executive was on the sidelines yelling, “Do something funny but do it funnier!”
As a wedding-themed comedy, Mike and Dave is formulaically sound because the whole story is told in the trailer. The audience gets a bargain basement comedy and, predictably, we see the brothers pair off with the appropriate bad-girl-gone-good — and all that gets buried in the spastic storytelling. It’s a movie designed for laughs while telling a story based on a book that probably didn’t have a substantial story to begin with — which is problematic from the get-go. The movie gets a smattering of laughs throughout, mainly with some of the physical humor, a cannot-be-unseen massage scene with Silicon Valley‘s Kumail Nanjiani, and an ongoing insult war between Mike and his cousin Terry (standout Alice Wetterlund); with the best digs being a tie between “your outfit looks like the wallpaper of a Long John Silver’s bathroom” and “you look like Don Johnson f**** Zack Morris.”
There is nothing to take away from Mike and Dave besides a scene where Efron takes off his shirt (obviously) and the joy that there are better wedding comedies out there for your viewing pleasure. In all its fun-loving intent, it just ends up being a sloppy personification of what happens after a beer-soaked one-night stand between a raunchy bro comedy and a quriky gal pal romp.
Runtime: 98 minutes
Dino-Ray Ramos watches too much TV, enjoys reality singing competitions and laughs inappropriately during dramatic films. He’s a fan of comedy, podcasts, and comedy podcasts. He’s a reformed comic book geek and thinks “The Goonies” is the best movie of all time. When he isn’t stuffing his face with a burrito, he’s thinking about his next trip to Disneyland.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer