Directed by: Jake Szymanski
Premise: Based on the memoir by Mike and Dave Stangle. A pair of brothers (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) are ordered to get dates for their sister’s destination wedding. They choose a pair of women (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick) who are as rambunctious as they are.
What Works: The genre of wedding movies is pretty terrible. With a few exceptions, most feature films set at nuptials are either corny family dramas or lame comedies. While Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is not a great movie it is successful at what it’s trying to do. This is a raunchy comedy set around a wedding and the film is adequately funny. The picture includes a mix of slapstick, one liners, and vulgar humor and the gags are delivered steadily throughout the film. Although Adam Devine and Zac Efron lead the movie as Mike and Dave, respectively, many of the best moments of this picture are provided by Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick as Tatiana and Alice. While Mike and Dave interview prospective wedding dates, Tatiana and Alice outsmart the men and insert themselves into the brothers’ lives in a way that gets them invited to the wedding. That’s one of the surprising aspects of this movie and the one place in which it shows some intelligence. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a battle of the sexes in which the men recruit and audition women to be their arm candy and the women use the men to get a vacation out of them. There is a push and pull of manipulation, especially between Plaza and Devine’s characters, and the movie calls out the implicit sexism of the story premise. Plaza and Kendrick are cast to type with Plaza as bad girl Tatiana and Kendrick as Alice, a sweet woman who has lost her way after being dumped at the altar. These ladies are a mess and there are a number of funny bits early on when Alice and Tatiana are at their sloppiest. Once on vacation, Alice hits it off with Dave (Efron), who is the more capable and mature of the two brothers, and their budding romance has a sweetness to it that offsets the raunchiness and occasional meanness of the rest of the movie.
What Doesn’t: There are no surprises in this film. A lot of romantic comedies use the “little white lie” scenario and anyone who has seen Meet the Parents and Wedding Crashers will find a lot of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates to be awfully familiar. The movie has a remarkably similar series of plot points and it rarely does them as well as its predecessors. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates has an inherent challenge that it never fully overcomes. The lead characters are idiots and it’s difficult to make stupid characters likable. Dumb protagonists can be made accessible as seen in Dumb & Dumber and Step Brothers but the title characters of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates don’t have the endearing qualities that the movie needs to put the audience on their side. The banter between Mike and Dave rarely feels authentic and they are vacuous characters. Adam Devine in particular tends to grate in his role as Mike. His character is written as clingy and impulsive and Devine doesn’t help matters with his shrill performance. He is often so over the top that he shatters the illusion of the movie. This film is about how Mike and Dave ruin family events and they inadvertently tear apart their sister’s wedding with the assistance of Alice and Tatiana. Their wild and destructive nature is tied to their selfishness; all four of these characters act without considering other people’s feelings. But when the wedding has been thoroughly ruined the characters have a sudden epiphany—apropos of nothing—and try to make up for it. The reconciliation is tagged on and disingenuous. The filmmakers force their way into a happy ending that these people don’t really deserve.
Bottom Line: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is an acceptable summer comedy. It recalls the “one crazy summer” movies of the 1980s and has many of the same appeals as titles like Caddyshack and The Great Outdoors. Mike and Dave is not nearly as funny as those pictures but it is amusing enough to merit a recommendation.
Episode: #604 (July 24, 2016)