October 5, 2016


Starring Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root, Sugar Lyn Beard, Sam Richardson, Stephanie Farcy, Alice Wetterlund. Directed by Jake Szymanski. (2016, 98 min).

Being that similar comedies released so far this year have been insultingly abysmal (looking at you, Dirty Grandpa & Neighbors 2), my expectations for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates weren’t exactly lofty. After all, how many more raunchy, gross-out comedies did we really need, anyway? And yet another one with Zac Efron! Didn’t these cease being funny a long time ago?

So even though I approached this disc with my usual amount of cynicism and trepidation for this sort of thing, something unusual happened:

I laughed...sometimes out loud.

For someone who still considers Animal House to be the Star Wars of this little subgenre, I was somewhat surprised. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates isn’t what anyone would call clever (hell, the title tells all). The thing is loaded with the usual checklist of f-bombs, drugs, booze, dick jokes, sex gags, nudity and over-the-top slapstick. Nor is any of it remotely original. We’ve seen countless films where the protagonists are dumb slobs whose stunted maturity and irresponsible behavior is the driving force of the story.

I guess the big difference is the characters themselves are enjoyable (even when they‘re being douche bags). As the title characters, Zac Efron & Adam Devine are inseparable, hard-parting brothers, neither of whom are the brightest crayons in the box. They also have a habit of ruining family get-togethers by causing chaos and hitting on all the single women. Their father (Stephen Root) insists they bring actual dates to the next event, their sister Jeanie’s wedding in Hawaii. So they place an ad on Craigslist looking for nice girls. Instead, Alice & Tatiana (Anna Kendrick & Aubrey Plaza), both hard-partiers themselves, show up. Alice is still upset over being left at the alter on her wedding day; Tatiana is as conniving as she is irresponsible. After being fired, they look at the wedding date offer as a free vacation.

No prize for guessing what transpires once everyone gets to Hawaii.

"Seriously, Zac...how many movies like this are you gonna do?"

It’s as predictable as the tide, but like someone who knows how to tell a good joke, the key is in the delivery. We’ve seen violent slapstick before. We've seen situational misunderstandings played for laughs. We’ve seen people ingest drugs at the worst possible moment. We’ve seen ‘funny’ sex scenes and characters who exist just to say outrageous things. But unlike, say, Neighbors, Matt and Dave Need Wedding Dates seldom plays like a series of isolated sketches clumsily squeezed together because someone felt a vomit gag was required. When Jeanie gets struck in the face by an ATV, it has an actual impact on the plot, as does the ‘special’ therapeutic message she receives later (which might be the funniest scene in the entire movie). When Mike and Dave ultimately end up fighting each other (verbally & physically), it’s rendered more amusing and believable because the film took the time to establish them as like-minded idiots.

ONE OF THE FILM'S DELETED SCENES (Courtesy of 20th Century Fox):

Not everything works. Some gags do go on a tad longer than they should, Alice Wetterlund as the brothers' in-your-face lesbian cousin is an out-of-place caricature and the final scene (a musical number) is brazenly pandering and stupid. I could have also done without all the constant title-dropping references to other movies. For the most part, however, the film hits its targets more often than it misses.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates isn’t gonna save Hollywood or anything, but it’s quite good for what it is: an congenial, enjoyably raunchy comedy. It may bring nothing new to the table in this already crowded subgenre, but what can I say? It rubbed me the right way and I laughed a lot, sometimes in spite of myself.

FEATURETTES: “Funny or Die” Shorts (3 amusing - but fake - behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast); “Bits on Bits on Bits” & “Line-O-Rama” (Similar segments featuring some on-the-set improvisation)
Deleted/Extended Scenes
Audio Commentary (featuring the director)
Gag Reel
DVD & Digital Copies

No comments: