Release Date: July 8, 2016
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Jake Szymanski
Comedy is arguably the most subjective film genre. What one person may find hysterically raunchy another may find obscenely repulsive. When it comes to Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, I fall into the former category. Part of this can be attributed to tampered expectations. Most of the recent 2016 comedies have either been pleasant surprises (Neighbors 2) or offensive and irredeemable. (Zoolander 2). Ironically, star Zac Efron is a common denominator in both Neighbors 2 and this film. Efron seems to have finally found his niche by choosing roles that play off his natural charm and chiseled physique. He may be the top-billed in this film but all four leads provide a plethora of side-splitting laughs.
The story centers on Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) Stangle. They’re a pair of hard-partying liquor salesman, known for going a bit too hard at family gatherings. This poses a major threat to their sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) upcoming wedding. In order to prevent mischief, their father (Stephen Root) orders both of them to find dates to prevent them from “riling each other up.” After accepting Craigslist interviews to no avail, Mike and Dave finally meet Tatiana and Alice (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick). Once they get to Hawaii, it turns out that their “dates” are far wilder than even their craziest hijinks.
“Loosely” based on the real life Stangle brothers, Mike and Dave definitely earns its R rating. Think of this film as a hybrid between Wedding Crashers and Porky’s. The majority of the film pits the duo against their dynamic female counterparts. With a quartet of experienced professionals, most of the jokes hit their designated targets. The characters are rather shallow but the actors are so likable that they can’t help but be funny. If you’ve only seen Kendrick or Efron in mainstream films, you’ll be surprised at how filthy their antics are. Kendrick especially dives straight into some dirty monologues, one in particular discussing a porn version of Ghostbusters. One gag goes too far involving ecstasy but there’s a certain suspension of disbelief required to go along with it.
Efron’s strength here is taking simplistic gags and squeezing every last chuckle out of them. It takes talent to earn laughs out of a childhood story which involves many utterings of the word “moist.” Both he and Kendrick leave most of the physical comedy to co-star Aubrey Plaza. Parks and Recreation is one of my favorite shows of all time and she’s a big reason why. Her deadpan delivery as April carries over here but the gross out humor is cranked to 11. Mike and Dave takes place in a world where sexual humor is as crude as can be. Surprisingly, it was never tedious because it was consistent. They raise the bar of deviancy early on and push it as high as it can be tolerated. If there was a joke that didn’t hit a bulls-eye, the quick-draw pacing prevents lingering on a sour note.
On the note of suspending disbelief, Adam Devine’s performance borders on being extremely cartoonish. He gets by on the fact that his co-stars are more grounded, which provides a sense of freedom of his ridiculous antics. He’s a man-child who has perfected the art of “the “ugly cry” complete with facial expressions and high pitched wailing. As a longtime fan of Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey, these kinds of characters don’t bother me. He’s not there for strictly reaction shots or to be the butt of the joke. Most of the time, he’s delivering punchlines or walking in on obscene scenarios. His standout moment was walking in on a rather intimate massage session.
Eventually, both pairs come to regret how they’ve screwed things up and set out to make things right. This is where the film breaks free of its similar predecessors and creates a genuine character. When it finally stops to catch its breath, the film fully exploits the humor in self-improvement through unintentional destruction. The four main characters are definitely buffoons but they’re not complete imbeciles. They fight and disagree but it’s actually earned when there are resolutions. All four of the leading characters are also given storylines about living in the present. Each has some growing up to do and it makes them feel all the more human.
The resolutions of this arc lead to fairly predictable conclusions but they’re not spoon-fed with a dose of sentimentality. It’s a crowd-pleasing comedy that functions very well as a piece of summer escapism. The Hawaii setting definitely helps on that front quite a bit. It may not be on the level of say Wedding Crashers but it delivers where it counts. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and hopefully need a sequel with a slightly toned down desire to push the envelope.
- Leads have great chemistry
- 90% of the gags hit
- Quick pacing
- Beautiful Hawaiian landscape
- Some jokes go too far
- Devine can occasionally be too cartoonish
Matt is a longtime film buff, writer and podcast host from Rhode Island. Ask him what his favorite films are and you will probably get a different answer every time. In addition to writing for The Nerd Stash, Matt writes for The Young Folks, which is also the home of his podcast Directors of Cinema.