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November 20, 2016

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

by Franz Patrick


Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)
★ / ★★★★

Although starring performers that have been funny and entertaining in other projects, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” directed by Jake Szymanski, is the kind of movie that only the brain dead would find even remotely amusing. It has a semblance of a plot but offers no intriguing story—even for a comedy that is supposed to be laid back considering the beautiful Hawaiian setting. Instead, the filmmakers make a habit of relying on the actors to ad-lib which leads to a lack of flow from one scene to another. The picture, for the most part, is nonsensical; there is no reason for it to exist other than to annoy and waste the audience’s time.

The title is so because Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are given an ultimatum by their father (Stephen Root). Dad believes that if his sons bring dates to their sister’s wedding (Sugar Lyn Beard), they would not hit on every other woman around thereby avoiding desperation and disaster. Mike and Dave are instructed to bring nice girls specifically. Meanwhile, dirty-mouthed and hard-partying girls Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) are in need of a vacation. Having come across the men’s request for dates, the best friends pretend to be the nice girls required for the task in exchange for a free trip to Hawaii.

Notice how in every other scene somebody is either yelling, screaming, or tripping over themselves. For a while we wonder if it is meant to be a slapstick comedy given the number of people falling down and ending up in all sorts of contortions. But it is not a slapstick comedy. It is supposed to be a raunchy comedy—only it doesn’t work on any level because the dirty jokes have no intelligence, wit, or shock value behind them. The rise in decibels and the acrobatics occur because something—anything—needs to happen. It gives the impression that everybody knows that the material is not at all funny and so somebody must fall over.

For a movie involving a wedding, the picture offers no genuine, touching, or even a practical human connection. Dave and Mike are supposed to be brothers who are very close but they are not written in such a way that we understand or come to realize why they need each other other than the fact that they are brothers. The same goes for Alice and Tatiana; they are supposed to be best friends, but we are not provided situations that reflect the strength of their bond. Even the two people about to get married are one-dimensional wooden planks. They are about to get married, but there is no believable romance or sweetness in their interactions.

Kendrick must be singled out for being miscast. Although I’ve always liked her presence because there is often a grounded, geeky girl-next-door feel to her performances, Kendrick is simply not a convincing hard-partying girl. Whenever she and Plaza are standing next to each other and their characters are up to no good or are lying to the people they are talking to, Plaza steals the show completely. The key is in the eyes. Plaza has this playful roughness in every single thing that she does and so we believe her character. Kendrick, on the other hand, is too much of a warm presence. Someone more convincing should have been cast in her place.

Written by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is a deeply unfunny, interminable experience. People should feel insulted for being presented this level of trash since the filmmakers actually had the audacity to disguise it as entertainment with the intention of getting away with it. We deserve much better than a would-be comedy made without any convincing effort to be funny.

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