Loves: Efron, Plaza and alternative comics
Likes: Efron, Devine, Kendrick, Hawaii
Dislikes: No Efron, tantric sex
Hates: Not enough Efron
Movies based on a true story come and go but this one is the least probable one. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates has everything that makes for a good comedy. The best cast, two joke inducing writers, and the set piece creating setting that is Hawaii. But it falls short in many areas in which all comedies fall and that’s the story. Glaring problems with expositional dialogue and manufactured hate keep this movie from the heights it should be at. Make no mistake, though, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is one of the best comedies of the year.
Adam Devine and Zac Efron take on the roles of Mike and Dave Stangle who, after ruining countless family events with their testosterone fueled fun, are forced to bring wedding dates to their sister Jeanie’s (Stephanie “Sugar” Lyn Beard) wedding. Their parents, played by Stephen Root and Stephanie Faracy, want to avoid the problems that arise when the boys rile each other up. After an appearance on Wendy William’s show, the boys meet Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) who lie to get a free vacation. The girls’ fake personalities are adored by everyone but, eventually, the wedding is ruined anyway.
The story can be encapsulated into one paragraph because it’s so rudimentary. But its simpleness does play into the joke telling. The audience knows for a fact that these guys will screw everything up. In fact, the likelihood of a mess up is doubled by the time Alice and Tatiana join in. However, the real meat of the movie is in the actors and jokes themselves. Efron and Kendrick may lay a bit flatter (and thus have to try harder) but they’re just as good as their comedic partners Devine and Plaza, both of whom deliver every line with a solid punch. Likewise, the character actors – Kumail Nanjiani, Marc Maron, and Lavell Crawford to name a few -- that are laced throughout do a solid job with what they’re given.
But problems arise when the cookie cutter story plays out exactly as it hints. It’s cut and dry, to no effect, and leaves much to be desired. One can pinpoint where exact story beats will hit. Mike and Dave get into a fight. The Jurassic Park ATV tour ruins Jeanie’s face. Alice and Dave fall in love. Nothing is hidden from the eye of the viewer. To add to that Mike and Dave has one big personal issue with one of its own characters: Mike. From the get go, he is the underdog in a story about two under dogs. Their father pulls Dave aside to tell him he’s sorry he had to lump him in with Dave, who he sees as the real problem. Consistently throughout the movie Mike is given backhanded (and sometimes in person) opposition from the others. A montage during which the guys set up the wedding date contest has 99% of the girls they go out with picking Dave over Mike (because Efron, duh). There wouldn’t be much issue with this if the script called back to it in a major story beat. But, alas, it did not – leading the movie to look to be more Mike focused…that is until the second act starts and Dave becomes the real star.
Herein lies another issue with the movie in balance. The first act paints a picture that this is going to go into a couple of different territories, one of which is Dave being a few steps ahead of him in the looks department. But it does nothing with the information when it had multiple chances to. Likewise other characters aren’t utilized to their fullest comedic extent. How can a movie have Jake Johnson and Mary Holland but not give them their chances to shine much like Nanjiani and (to a minor extent) Crawford? Having comedians with such talent be reduced to banal levels is below their weight class.
Should you watch Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates?
Turning out not quite as good as I’d like but still hitting many right notes has Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates leaning towards the “yes” category. It has a fun cast – maybe the best comedy cast this year. And it caters to everyone. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is ridiculously entertaining throughout. While it does have its issues, the movie shines.
- And thus ends the tale of the year Zac Efron led three summer movies. First he hit the low, low depths Dirty Grandpa, then he went back to familiar roots in Neighbors 2 and finally took some much needed R&R with Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. If I had to rank them, it’d go Neighbors 2, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and Dirty Grandpa in a very distant third. The first two are comedic gems.
- Speaking of comedic gems, this is yet another movie with alternative comedians taking roles that once belonged to A-listers. Holland, Nanjiani, Crawford, Maron, Jake Johnson, Erik Griffin, Eugene Cordero, Alice Wetterlund and Sam Richardson have put in so much work on stage. It’s so nice to see them do well on the silver screen.
- On that note, Richardson is grossly underutilized. While on screen, he’s not referenced directly. He doesn’t even speak until the middle of the second act (which is Hawaii). You have one of the stars of Veep here! That’s the best comedy on television! Give the man all of the damn lines!
- This also ends the Plaza/Efron/Devine/Kendrick shared movie universe. Plaza and Efron starred in Dirty Grandpa together. Devine and Kendrick have Pitch Perfect. Plaza and Kendrick did Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Life After Beth.
- Wendy Williams was a weird get for this movie. The real life story saw the brothers go on Today. I would’ve at least tried for GMA or Live with Kelly.
- It’s so great to see Stephen Root starring in a movie again.
- The clothing that Devine and Efron wear is everything I wear in my life. Especially Efron’ stuff. Weird pattern shirt? Check. Tight shorts? Check. I just wish I was just as handsome.
- All the anti-Mike comments made me think of This Means War, another movie with two leading characters where one is obviously more good-looking. I also hated that ending. YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO ACTUALLY CHOOSE SOMEONE, REESE. GOD.