Written by Matt Gilbert
Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates Plot Summary:
Two party animal brothers Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) need wedding dates to their sister’s wedding in Hawaii. Of course, they’re looking for the “perfect dates” not party animals like themselves. Their online ad is answered by the equally wild, Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), who pretend to be the perfect girls…till they get to the wedding.
It’s exceedingly rare nowadays that a comedic film is actually worth watching beyond some cheap gags and disposable entertainment. Two examples of comedies made with substance and specifically targeted humor driving a very specific purpose all through its narrative are the Neighbors or 21 Jump Street films. Mike and Dave was never going to be one of these films, but it had potential to be a satisfying movie based on a true (and funny) story. Unfortunately, the movie itself begins to fall apart rather quickly dragging it from mindless fun to almost unwatchable by its finale.
The writing reeks of something that was green-lit and financed based on its concept and it seems the studio only realized later that it actually has to have an ending. Ignoring the predictable and stocky clichéd romances and character backstories, the storytelling is downright lazy. This movie has no stakes. It never wants us to feel any sort of tension, or worry about our characters. Important details are revealed abruptly, literally by accident, when they slip out of one character’s mouth for no reason. What passes for character development is merely two sets of characters having identical conversations, in separate rooms, in which they flat out tell each other what they did wrong and why it’s bad. They don’t learn their mistakes through any sort of growth or experience, but by having it spelled out for them by their best friend in one scene. Then all broken relationships are miraculously repaired in time to see our protagonists give their rehearsal dinner speech which they had been building up for the entire movie. This may in fact be the biggest letdown of the year. On top of this, the final half hour is so riddled with clichés and contrived conflicts that I could barely laugh at any of the throwaway jokes on account from rolling my eyes too hard.
The side characters are so disappointing and shockingly unfunny. There’s one particular character played by Alice Wetterlund who is meant to serve as the “successful” family member compared to Mike’s “screw-up” status. Wetterlund does a perfectly okay job with the character, but like everyone else not listed in the title, the movie just cannot make her memorable. What’s infuriating is this even applies to the female leads played by Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick. These are two very talented, very funny actresses but with the exception of some choice one-liners the movie can’t find how to make them funny at all. A comedy with this many stars (Stephen Root, Kumail Nanjiani, Marc Maron) shouldn’t have this hard a time at being funny, but there is an uncomfortable amount of time where even though they are cracking jokes it couldn’t even bring a chuckle. In the end, it just becomes a movie far beneath what so many of them could be doing.
Where the movie does excel is in its title characters. Adam DeVine does some hammy overacting in small moments and it’s easy to tell where it isn’t what’s natural for him, but overall has great comedic timing and delivery. He is the funniest part of the movie. Zac Efron, meanwhile, continues to show his chops as a legitimately talented actor. Efron has the uncommon ability of having onscreen chemistry with anyone. Both DeVine and Kendrick manage to form a clear connection with his character and he’s enjoyable in every scene. The movie’s best scenes all involve the Stangle brothers bouncing off each other with fast-paced and hilarious (possibly) improvised dialogue. It’s unclear how much of it was scripted and how much was just the natural energy these two had with their characters, but they manage to save what was almost a complete disaster of a movie.
Like so many before it, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the cheap, disposable brand of humor made to show off its main stars while offering no real story or point to its slapstick or verbal humor. Its side characters left me incredibly wanting and the act of making Plaza and Kendrick so dull, to me, is unforgivable. Efron and DeVine manage to make the film mostly entertaining until the last half hour or so but can’t save it from making me wish their talents were put to use on something better. It is a movie that may take place at a wedding, but feels more at home at a bachelor party.