MIKE AND DAVE
NEED WEDDING DATES ½
R, 98 mins.
2016, R, 98 mins.
Zac Efron as Dave Stangle / Adam DeVine as Mike Stangle / Anna Kendrick as Alice / Aubrey Plaza as Tatiana / Sugar Lyn Beard as Jeanie Stangle / Kumail Nanjiani as Keanu
Directed by Jake Szymanski / Written by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien
MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES is one of the most mind numbingly obnoxious comedies that I’ve seen in an awfully long time. The fact that it’s loosely based on a true story makes it all the more shameful.
Inspired by the tale of Mike and Dave Stangle, two Albany, New York men that ended up putting an ad on Craigslist looking for respectable wedding dates (they parlayed this stunt into book and film rights deals), the movie rarely makes a claim for its very existence, other than to bombard viewers with witless, lifeless, ill timed, and insipidly laugh-free sitcom worthy comedic contrivances for 90-plus minutes.
Actually, MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES is an insult to witless,
lifeless, ill timed and insipidly laugh-free TV sitcoms.
of the cardinal blunders that this “comedy” makes is that it
oh-so-frequently mistakes volume and vulgarity for hilarity.
I’m no prude. Some of my favorite big screen comedies of all time wallowed
in wanton raunchiness. Yet,
the characters in MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES methodically hammer
home telegraphed punch lines by boisterously screaming and yelling in
hyperactive fits, somehow pathetically thinking that it comes off
rather amusingly. Comedy
requires pacing, nuance, and most importantly, tactful modulation.
The pratfalls and profanity-laced sight gags here have energy, yes,
but there’s nothing inherently in them lurking beneath the surface.
The performers bellow out their dialogue exchanges like petulant
nine-year-old boys that haven’t achieved puberty yet, and the shrillness
of this overall approach gets tiring very, very soon.
It’s simply not funny. It’s
annoying. There’s no construction of well earned laughs
here, just random shouting matches between characters that use f-bombs and
multiple variations of them to score cheap laughs.
This film is hyper-caffeinated to the point of being headache
this film were not, as mentioned, based on fact then I would label its
premise as pure nonsensical science fiction.
The Strangle brothers – Mike (a fingernails-on-a-chalkboard
annoying Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron, borderline schizophrenic here)
– are perpetual man-children whose deeply immoral, irresponsible, and
hedonistic ways at various functions and get-togethers over the years have
made them the black sheep of their family.
They’re simply out-of-control hooligans that deserve to be in
straight jackets. Yet, their
dear ol’ daddy (Stephen Root, perhaps the only actor here trying to inhabit a
modest aura of authenticity) wants to give these losers
one more chance of redemption. They're allowed to come to their baby sister’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding in
Hawaii…but only if they bring respectable dates to keep their
embarrassingly obtrusive partying antics in check.
you’d think that for men that look like…say…Zac Efron…securing a
date with a woman – any woman, classy or not – would be as easy as
snapping your fingers together. Nope,
because in the bizarre fantasyland that is this movie, Mike and Dave
desperately resort to Craigslist and later a TV talk show appearance to
plead their case (in reality, I’m sure that the real Strangle brothers
did it less out of desperation and more as a self-promoting publicity
stunt to garner overnight fame). Well,
two floozies named Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick) see
their appearance and realize that this is their meal ticket to scoring a
free trip to the tropical state. Unfortunately,
they are, to put it blunt, hard partying whores. Realizing that they’ll have to clean up fast, Tatiana and
Alice pose as – gasp! – nice girls to the hapless Stangle brothers,
and because they (and just about everyone else in this film) are grade-A
idiots, no one can see past their deception.
The four of them depart to Hawaii and things predictably snowball
AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES is one of those rare comedies starring
limitlessly appealing (for the most part) actors that reduce themselves to
playing characters that are not really credible and relatable human beings...and
ones that don't occupy reality and a planet I like to call Earth.
Broad, farcical comedies are not meant to be holding a mirror up to
society as a whole, to be sure, but even the most over-the-top and vulgar
I've seen have worked because they contained likeable and empathetic characters that we
felt sorry for in the midst of all of the relative garbage that they go
through. Mike and Dave are
never likeable, believable, or sympathetic characters at all.
We’re supposed to find these guys to be loveable losers, but
they’re simply losers frustratingly stuck in a hellish state of arrested
development. I will give
Efron props for at least trying to shed his Disney-fied baby faced/pretty
boy image as of late, and he definitely has displayed a knack for comedy
(see the two NEIGHBORS films), but any discipline displayed before is AWOL
in this film. And Adam DeVine is so
bloody histrionic and excruciatingly loud in the film that I wanted to hurl
something at the screen. It’s
one of the most insufferably one-note comedic performances of recent
memory; no attempt is made by him to achieve any semblance of performance
subtlety and occupy a convincing character.
the women fare no better either.
Aubrey Plaza has been so winning in previous comedies (SAFETY
NOT GUARANTEED and THE TO DO LIST),
but her immoral, impure and caustically potty-mouth schitck is starting to
grow extremely tiresome. Kendrick
at least is trying to play against type, seeing as she's portrayed nice-girl-next-door roles for a majority of her career, but her supreme
talents are horrendously wasted in a role of lazily-scripted superficiality. Plaza and
Kendrick, much like Efron and DeVine, are playing stereotypes on pure
autopilot here. They’re
just not given much to work with here on paper.
The film establishes a tone for these personas early on, but then
as it culminates towards a ludicrous climax – where everyone seemingly
has a complete 180-degree, about-face emotional turn for the better –
you kind of just want to throw your hands up in incredulous disgust.
MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES never once earns its ending,
mostly because it’s really hard to care whether the men and women will
hook up in the end.
The film commits a big cinematic sin for comedies in thinking that it’s courageously pushing the envelope of taste and decorum, but it just falls flat on its face. Some sequences are inexcusably unfunny, such as an extended bit involving Mike and Dave’s sister being pleasured by a nude Indian masseuse (Kumail Nanjiani) that feels like an adult-rated cartoon from hell. The scene just goes on and on…and on. The manner the film also uses one bisexual character (Mike and Dave’s cousin, played by Alice Wetterlund) as a chronically sex starved miscreant is pretty offensive (caricaturized gay and bisexual predatorily characters used for the purposes of sensationalistic chuckles frankly belongs in a misguided comedy from 25 years ago, not now). MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES isn’t as assaultively infantile and puerile as the other Zac Efron/Aubrey Plaza comedy from 2016 (DIRTY GRANDPA exists on its own plane of repellent awfulness), but it remains one of the most thoroughly unpleasant experiences I’ve had in a movie theatre this year. It’s a film that’s indicative of a damning trend in Hollywood these days: comedies that are so shrill, crude, and outrageous that they forget to be…well…funny.