Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Movie Review: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Directed by: Jake Szymanski. 
Written by: Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O'Brien. 
Starring: Zac Efron (Dave Stangle), Adam Devine (Mike Stangle), Anna Kendrick (Alice), Aubrey Plaza (Tatiana), Stephen Root (Burt), Stephanie Faracy (Rosie), Sugar Lyn Beard (Jeanie Stangle), Sam Richardson (Eric), Alice Wetterlund (Cousin Terry), Lavell Crawford (Keith), Mary Holland (Becky), Kumail Nanjiani (Keanu), Jake Johnson (Ronnie), Marc Maron (Randy). 
The four leads of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates are all tremendously likable stars, who together should be more than capable carrying a comedy like this on their backs for 90 minutes of raunchy fun. To be fair to them, they really do try to do just that – but they aren’t really given the material to work with to make the film work. There is another version of this film that I could see being a legitimately great movie – one that acknowledges the toxicity of the dude-bro culture this movie celebrates, and does something other than turn the two female leads into female dude-bros themselves. The movie is at least an equal opportunity offender.

The film is loosely based on real events, as brothers Dave and Mike Stangle (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) are told by their parents that they must bring dates with them to their sister’s wedding in Hawaii – not only that, but the girls have to be “nice” girls – ones that can help control them, as Mike and Dave have a way of destroying everything they touch – even if they have the best of intentions when doing so. Enter Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) – two best friends who have just been fired from their job as waitress at a bar, and decide they want a free trip to Hawaii. They are the exact opposite of “nice” girls – but Tatiana figures they can fake their way through it – even if Alice struggles with lying. Of course Mike and Dave end up taking Tatiana and Alice – who eventually reveal, they aren’t the nice girls the brothers signed up for. But then, of course, the movie goes all soft and gooey (mostly), and it is revealed these characters have feelings after all.
To give Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates a little bit of credit (not much, but a little) the film is slightly subversive compared to the of comedies about overgrown man children and the ever patient women who love them, and eventually help them to mature. This isn’t Knocked Up or Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where the sad sack, overweight dude, who acts like a teenager eventually decides to grow up for the woman in his life – who is of course, unrealistic female perfection personified. Alice and Tatiana are as messed up as Mike and Dave are – although in Alice’s case anyway, there seems to be a reason for that (being left at the alter) – although in Tatiana’s case, she’s just as much of an alpha as Mike and Dave. Their characters are given slightly more depth than Mike and Dave – who are almost interchangeable for much of the runtime.
The movie really should try pushing itself more. While I understand the urge to have more movies where the women are allowed to be as big of dicks as the men are – what I would really like to see if a movie where none of the characters are dicks – and people behave their adults, not like teenagers in the body of 30 year olds. I would also like a movie that didn’t necessary think the idea of a greased up Indian man giving an erotic massage was so hilarious, or that didn’t fall back on the easiest jokes imaginable about lesbian, drug use, etc. It’s really just rather lazy.
The sad thing about Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is that I can legitimately see a version of this movie that could have worked very well – and I would gladly watch another movie with these same four leads again – especially anything with Anna Kendrick or Audrey Plaza. But this film is just kind of lazy and uninspired. I wanted to like it – but there wasn’t much here to like.

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