Comedy is a genre that hasn’t been very kind to me lately. I find myself watching comedy films mostly with a straight face, thinking about the funnier, edgier things that I’ve seen on YouTube with creators far less worried about their integrity. Especially with 2016 starting the year with “Dirty Grandpa,” one of the worst comedy films in recent memory, I’ve been turned off as of late. “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is a film I was afraid for, since the film contains two of the four stars of “Dirty Grandpa,” Zac Efron and Aubrey Plaza. Though, I held out hope that the hilarious Plaza would pull through with her dry, dark humor that we know and love from her. Since the film was also produced by Peter Chernin, who produced “Spy,” the first film since “Bridesmaids” to have me holding my stomach in how much I was laughing.
While I wasn’t dying laughing like I was with “Spy,” “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is anything but “Dirty Grandpa.”
Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are brothers who share a wholesale alcohol business together and are the disappointment of their entire family with their crazy, destructive antics. When their sister, Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) is getting married, she tasks them with finding respectable dates for the event in Hawaii. After their Craigslist ad goes viral, the brothers are gobsmacked with applicants wanting to go to Hawaii for free. Two of these people, Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), find a way to cover up their equally destructive lifestyle to convince the boys that they are good girls perfect to accompany them to Hawaii, but once they arrive at the wedding, the brothers soon begin to see the true nature of these girls.
Simply put, the chemistry between Efron and Devine might just be the best part of this film. It’s clear that both of these guys are naturally funny individuals who are both having a ball riffing off each other’s different types of humor. It’s Devine though, who steals the movie for me. His quick-talking, high-pitched demeanor works wonderfully with his almost over-caffeinated way of moving, which also pairs beautifully with his unabashed vulgarism. Meanwhile, the girls aren’t any less vulgar. Kendrick and Plaza also play off each other very well, with Plaza finally finding the right balance in her “bad girl” character that she just wasn’t able to nail in “Dirty Grandpa.” These two are every bit the match for Efron and Devine and also have quite good chemistry with their respective pairs.
Sure, the film is pretty much a paid excuse for the entire cast and crew of the film to travel to Hawaii for a few months, but it still has the right atmosphere for the film. “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” doesn’t rely on any visual flair, as it’s just not that type of film, but it does build a nice atmosphere that you want to be a part of. The characters are likable and funny, plus the event itself is glitzy and fun. This is a film I want to be a bystander in.
If anything, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” relies on funny, which is fine, as a lot of films can’t even get that right, but this film stumbles when it tires to be deep for five minutes. The film doesn’t build enough character beyond the initial funny people to have us necessarily care about when it tries to become serious with their actual problems. This means that the film is only skin deep when it comes to its laughs, which is enough for a good time, but not quite enough to make it memorable.
In the end, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is serviceable in the moment, but doesn’t leave that much of a lasting impression. The chemistry between the cast is wonderful and the story itself is too good to believe (though it actually happened). The film struggles to create real, deep characters in their more serious moments, so the film isn’t firing on all cylinders, but it does its job well enough. Solely as a comedy, you could do much worse than this film, in fact, I had quite a good time with it, but I might not remember what was good about it in a month’s time.
Directed by: Jake Szymanski
Starring: Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root, Stephanie Faracy, Sugar Lyn Beard, Sam Richardson.
Runtime: 98 minutes
Rating: R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity.
Twentieth Century Fox presents, a Chernin Entertainment production, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”