Reviewing: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

From left to right: Anna Kendrick, Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, and Aubrey Plaza.

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox. 

by Cole Albinder

I’ve been noticing a disappointing trend in some recent big-budget comedies, mostly R-rated ones. Now more than ever, they seem to always ride on a constant stream of dirty jokes and droppings of the F-bomb. Now don’t get me wrong: those two factors can make for some funny scenes in movies, but they start becoming more obnoxious than funny when that’s what makes up most of the humor. Not to say that every recent movie that’s done this has been terrible, but in my opinion there should be a way to curse and crack jokes in ways that don’t feel outdated and in your face. What I’m saying is that characters in a film should go a while into their running time without using “fuck” as a noun/verb or going overly dirty with their jokes, even if that film is R-rated. This week’s entry, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, improves a bit on this front but otherwise fails to take advantage of a great premise.

Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave Stangle (Zac Efron) are brothers who have a reputation in their family for wreaking havoc during family gatherings with their antics (a flashback shows that their fireworks display at one party didn’t go as planned). Not wanting the boys’ sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding in Hawaii to suffer a similar fate, their father Burt (Stephen Root) demands that the boys find “respectable girls” to be their dates to the wedding, so that they will keep the boys out of trouble. The boys agree, putting an ad out on Craigslist, before appearing live on The Wendy Williams Show. 

The two main couples.

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox. 

This televised appearance catches the attention of two slacker party girls, Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), who have just been fired from their jobs. After catching the brothers’ attention one night (when Tatiana throws herself in front of a car, with Mike rushing to her aid), they agree to take the girls to Hawaii. Once there, the girls struggle to hide their true identities from the brothers and their family members (Tatiana says she is a schoolteacher, Alice goes with being a hedge fund manager), along with actually growing attached to the boys, all the while leaving just as much mayhem in their wake as the brothers usually would.

All in all, it’s an entertaining, if not quite fulfilling movie. It has its moments, no doubt, but even then, those moments could have been made better with more attention on character development and stronger writing. Fortunately, the cast brings their A-game to the material. Efron has been proving himself to be a talented comedic actor in the past few years, and here he succeeds on giving Dave both humor and pathos. DeVine (already well-known as one of the co-creators and stars of Workaholics) matches him with hilarious intensity, and Plaza proves that she’s one of the best female comedians working today. Then there’s Kendrick: don’t get me wrong, she’s a great actress who’s proven her comedic chops in the past, but I haven’t been as comfortable with her playing overly raunchy, quirky characters like she does here. I watched another movie called Mr. Right where she played a similar type of character, and it almost made me cringe watching her deliver certain lines as that character. To be fair, that movie wasn’t quite a gem either, so it’s possible that she can deliver more as this character when she’s got better material to work with.

The four leads huddle up.

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox. 

But as I said at the beginning of this review, Mike and Dave doesn’t go full speed ahead into dick jokes and F-bombs until a little into the movie, which I commend it for (if I wrote an R-rated comedy, I’d use the F-bombs and jokes more wisely, just saying), but it still points out a fundamental flaw with big budget comedies: they feel like they can coast by on cursing and making stale dirty jokes, leaving little room for character development or innovation. It could be said that no one sets out to make a bad movie, but I feel like if people in this business could be pushed toward change and originality, then there’s hope for entertainment in the near future.

 

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