Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Jake Szymanski
We all love Zac Efron, right? Sure there was a point where everyone inexplicably hated him the same way that everyone hated DiCaprio after Titanic, but the guy is just bursting with charisma when he’s not merely bursting out of his clothes. Still, he’s hit a bit of a rut recently where he’s either in an awful movie or he’s in a decent enough movie but isn’t asked to stretch very far, and I fear this might continue for a while considering how badly his sincere low budget drama We Are Your Friends ended up being received by everyone other than me. This one looks to be a continuation of that trend where he’s playing yet another dumb guy with a stupidly hot bod, though maybe they can manage to do something interesting with that character rather than just regurgitate jokes we’ve seen him do for the last five years? Yeah, I don’t have much hope either, but you never know! Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Mike and Dave (Zac Efron and Adam Devine); two brothers who may as well be spin-off characters from the Neighbors movies as both are in total broski mode as they are PROBABLY in their thirties by now (their age isn’t specified) yet are still trying to live life like they’re college douche bags. They’re liquor salesmen but as far as I can tell they only have one client who buys their whiskey out of pity, and their apartment looks like the jock-pocalypse took place, what with the empty pizza boxes and indoor basketball hoop. Their bubble is about to burst though, at least somewhat, they are confronted by their parents and younger sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) who’s wedding is coming up and all of them, including the fiancé Eric (Sam Richardson), want them to shape up and act like adults rather than party animals. How exactly do they expect these two knuckleheads to pull this off? By getting dates of course! Through a whole bunch of convoluted means, they end up meeting Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza), who are pretending to be nice and stable girls so they can bum a free vacation off of these two as the wedding will take place in Hawaii; a destination I’m sure was chosen for its natural beauty and rich culture and wasn’t an excuse for the actors to take a vacation (a well-known Hollywood scam known as An Adam Sandler Movie). Of course, the bad girls can’t keep up the act for long which only leads to Mike and Dave getting all riled up and chaos eventually ensues! Can everyone manage to keep their shit together, at least until after the two get married? Will these four people thrown together through luck and manipulation manage to find… true love? Why would the supposedly reasonable people ever think that this plan would work out?
There’s a good movie to be found here, but either the writers were not up to the task or they just didn’t care enough to make this anything other than ho-hum and lazily crass. Fortunately it manages to be at least somewhat clever at points and is definitely bolstered by what is for the most part a strong cast who are working their asses off for this material, but for every moment they got right there were a dozen where they were just scrambling to try and spit out something funny and risqué and it never finds the right balance between witty and boorish. Still, at least it’s WAY better than Dirty Grandpa.
So as usual when it comes to comedies, critiquing the humor itself is a serious uphill battle considering how hard it is to predict what any given person is going to find funny, but I can give you some basic facts which will hopefully give you an idea of what to expect here. The main sources of humor in here revolve around our four main stars (namely Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, and Aubrey Plaza), and is presented to us in a very improvisational style. None of these characters are intelligent in the least, so a lot of the jokes here originate in how these four people can’t seem to pick up on social cues, are unable to realize how their behavior affects others, and their general lack of knowledge on very basic stuff. Now some of the character based humor in here does work, particularly with Anna who had a traumatic wedding experience that drives all of her actions throughout this adventure, but for the most part the humor falls flat due to how simple and repetitive the jokes are. This leads us nicely into the improvisational humor which is REALLY blatant here and poorly edited into the movie. There are scenes that should work and provide a modicum of emotional impact, but they lack any sense of flow and poignancy because the editor decided to use ALL the takes they had of this one joke and so a scene where Adam Devine and Aubrey Plaza get into an argument is completely undercut because one of them does about seven or eight raunchy hand gestures while the other actor (who’s supposed to be livid at this point) just stands there and watches. A lot of really great comedies have been done with this style of film making where an actor is let loose to find the right joke for a scene, but the directors who actually know what they are doing (*cough* Judd Apatow *cough*) use the BEST joke instead of sticking them all in to fill out the running time.
Of the four main characters, Adam Devine is easily the most unpalatable which I guess was intentional, but they did their job a bit too well here. He’s whiny, insufferable, has zero respect for women, and is easily the least funny character in this. What puts him over the edge into outright loathsome territory though is that the movie wants us to eventually go to his side but doesn’t bother to give him an actual redemptive arc. Instead we’re just supposed to pity him when he hits a particular low point which I guess the filmmakers assumed would endear himself to the audience but it just falls flat. His interactions with Aubrey Plaza in particular are super skeevy as he starts off trying to bone here while completely ignoring any signals she’s providing, and then gets completely indignant when it’s clear she wants nothing to do with him. We’re supposed to start feeling sorry for him but instead all it does is show just how tone deaf the filmmakers and writers were that the big emotional hook of his character is that he won’t be getting laid. What a keeper!!
The rest of the main characters are okay with Zac Effron and Anna Kendrick having some decent chemistry through this, though this is a pretty unspectacular performance from either of them with the former in particular having little to do outside of looking super-hot and being the sensitive bro. Aubrey Plaza is pretty solid in here too, but so many of her interactions involve Adam Devine (who is not a bad actor, but is in a shitty role) which dampened my enthusiasm whenever she was on screen. The side characters fare a bit better in here, but that’s usually a given with these kind of movies as they don’t have as much screen time to fill so they get to go through their good material rather quickly. Particularly I liked Alice Wetterlund as Cousin Terry who’s Mike and Dave’s bisexual cousin and she plays it like Millennial Jane Lynch. She also has a pretty funny dick measuring contest thing going on with Adam Devine that goes just far enough into obsessive absurdity to stay funny throughout and I wish she had a lot more to do in this movie, though maybe more screen time would run the risk of wearing out her welcome.
The biggest trooper in the entire movie though is Sugar Lyn Beard as Jeanie who is Mike and Dave’s sister and the bride to be. She’s actually in the movie almost as much as our four main characters and she’s ALWAYS funny, though once again we have someone who’s playing a mid-twenties version of a great female comedian (in this case, Leslie Mann). She has a lot of physical humor to pull off in this (including a few nude scenes) and she does it really well. Hell, her and her fiancé are the only two characters in here who are grounded enough to actually have a believable arc as the stress of this weekend puts a strain on their relationship in a way that has some emotional resonance, unlike our main heroes who sort of have arcs, but are too damn stupid and too broadly drawn for there to be any impact.
The movie goes as far as to name drop Wedding Crashers several times in this movie which was a mistake because you never want to reference a better movie in the middle of your crappy one. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I saw it, but that one had a certain level of polish and maturity where it trusted its audience enough to actually have well rounded characters and to have moments that were straight up dark such as the scene where Owen Wilson is so lost that he ends up crashing a funeral. This could have been a really solid follow up to that movie if they bothered to take some time to not make everything so obvious and on the nose, but it’s always the easy way out here. Maybe if Mike and Dave were actually fun, then it would make sense that they would even be invited to this wedding despite the endless amount of property damage and rampant debauchery they displayed at every family gathering. Maybe if Adam Devine wasn’t so obnoxious or if the movie had the gumption to not give him such an easily achieved happy ending, his role would have been at least tolerable. Nope. Everything has to be telegraphed way in advanced, no one’s motivations can be ambiguous or uncertain, and aside from one or two side characters, everyone needs to be a total freaking moron. Presumably all of this was to get as wide appeal as possible to get the masses to fill theaters, but I highly doubt it’s gonna pay off for them as raunchy comedies aren’t the driving force they used to be in cinema. All that dumbing down, and I bet there’ll be nothing to show for it.
Look, there are WAY worse movies to have come out this year. Hell, Zac Effron and Aubrey Plaza were both in ANOTHER rated R comedy this year that was set at a beach, and that one was ASTOUNDINGLY awful while this one was just mediocre. Still, while Dirty Grandpa was a lost cause from the word go, this one made a few right choices here and there that makes it hurt that much more how they were completely unable to pull it off in the end. It’s probably worth watching if you’re a fan of any of the lead actors in here, and I’m sure that you’ll find some laughs in a few of the side characters (I didn’t even mention that Lavell Crawford and Marc Maron have some hilarious bit parts in here), but it is absolutely not something you need to waste your money on seeing in the theaters. Who knows? Maybe the THIRD raunchy comedy set at a beach starring Zac Efron and Aubrey Plaza will be the one to knock it out of the park! Wait, Aubrey Plaza hasn’t been cast in the Baywatch movie, has she?
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