Film Review: Mike and Dave Need Wedding DatesA consistently amusing, if slapdash, wedding comedy buoyed by raunchy star turns from Adam Devine and Aubrey Plaza.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates claims to be based on the “sort of” true stories of real-life brothers Dave and Mike Stangel. Unsurprisingly, though, Jake Szymanski’s film is less beholden to reality than to the conventions established by the man-child comedies of Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell, and Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn—the latter of whose Wedding Crashers receives one of many pop-culture shout-outs from this consistently amusing, if slapdash, effort. Seemingly stitched together on the fly, the boisterous saga shows little interest in narrative ingenuity or cohesion—and is better off for it, treating its plot as merely a flimsy pretext for random, ridiculous gags, each one more profane and spastic than the last.
The story, as it were, concerns Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron), liquor-selling siblings who view themselves as fun-dispensing party animals. That self-image is far removed from the opinion of their mother and father (Stephanie Faracy and Stephen Root), who view their progeny as destructive, out-of-control idiots—a discrepancy amusingly illustrated via juxtaposed sequences of their revelry seen from different perspectives. With their sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) set to marry Eric (Sam Richardson), Mike and Dave are ordered by their parents to squelch their wild-man antics and bring “nice girl” dates to the Hawaii nuptials. In response, they create a Craigslist ad that quickly goes viral, leading to an appearance on “The Wendy Williams Show” that’s seen by Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza), two hot messes eager to nab a free island vacation by tricking the men into thinking they’re prim-and-proper professionals.
That setup is as hastily conceived as it is executed, and once the action makes its way to Hawaii—this after a staged auto-accident meet-cute—Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates truly ramps up its filthy absurdity, peaking with bits involving Jeanie receiving a “no penetration” erotic massage from a talented resort masseur (Kumail Nanjiani of “Silicon Valley”), and Tatiana agreeing to pleasure Mike’s lesbian cousin in return for backstage Rihanna tickets for super-fan Alice. The fact that Tatiana and Alice are the female mirror images of Mike and Dave is obvious from the get-go. Thankfully, however, director Szymanski doesn’t belabor that point or, for that matter, any other superficial theme about growing up or becoming more responsible and selfless. Instead, he simply focuses on generating escalating lunacy, and in that regard his film is a success, eliciting genuine laughs from vulgar juvenilia at a consistent clip.
Aside from its general sloppiness, replete with multiple storylines that are ignored almost as soon as they’re introduced, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ biggest flaw is that it relegates Zac Efron to a straight-man afterthought. Given his recent, sterling comedic work in the Neighbors films, Efron’s second-banana status comes across as something of a missed opportunity. Nonetheless, even as it squanders its one true movie star—as well as burdens Kendrick with a role that uneasily straddles the line between out-of-control vixen and sentimental softie—the film proves a splendid showcase for Devine, whose mixture of immature arrogance, pathetic nerdiness and general weirdness is inspired. Moreover, he’s ably matched by a fiercely uninhibited, narcissistic Plaza, who struts about the screen with such cocksure confidence, it’s no wonder that the proceedings end with a gag in which, during sex, she assumes the dominant position.
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