“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” Movie Review


     I highly doubt the filmmakers behind “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” believe their new film would ever be described as a fresh and original take on the raunchy R rated comedy that seems to have become standard Summer viewing.  With “Mike and Dave” also operating within the premise of a wedding, it ensures the film will almost certainly follow many of the exact same classic tropes already well established by top of the genre films like “Wedding Crashers” and “Meet the Parents”.  Making his feature directing debut, Jake Szymanski (“7 Days in Hell”) teams up with writing duo Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (“Neighbors”) to essentially follow a similar narrative to the aforementioned films, but also mixing in an overall “A Night at the Roxbury” vibe.  Szymanski lets us know at about the mid point of the film that he’s in on the joke when he has his characters refer directly to key scenes in “Wedding Crashers” as if the two stooges having the conversation are actually measuring up to the lofty standards set by the characters in that film.

     The story is inspired by real life brothers, Dave and Mike Stangle, who actually posted a Craigslist ad looking for wedding dates which went viral and apparently got the attention of Hollywood as being the perfect spring board into yet another raunchy wedding comedy.  In “Mike and Dave”, the brothers are played by Adam Devine (“Pitch Perfect”) and Zac Efron (“Neighbors”), who are presented as having a knack for ruining family events with their hard core and raucous brand of partying.  With their sister, Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard), about to get married in Hawaii, their parents, Burt (Stephen Root) and Rosie (Stephanie Faracy), are rightfully worried the antics of their two sons will somehow ruin the wedding.  As they see it, the only solution is for Dave and Mike to bring dates, an idea the brothers clearly feel is not a part of their standard wedding attendance playbook.

     And so as the story goes, Dave and Mike put the now famous ad on Craigslist, which ultimately reaches the eyeballs of Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), who form an equally as abrupt and naughty pair of party crashers as Dave and Mike do.  Alice and Tatiana realize that in order to win the attention of the brothers and ultimately a trip to Hawaii, they must transform themselves into something significantly more desirable.  Of course, we’re dealing with four really dumb people here, so the facade put in play, which has Tatiana posing as a school teacher and Alice pretending to be a Hedge Fund manager, works just as the girls had hoped.  Cohen and O’Brien’s screenplay actually has a number of funny scenes performed perfectly by Efron, Devine, Kendrick, and Plaza, with most of them falling within the film’s first hour or so.  Some of the strongest stuff is actually an endless amount of movie references the characters use during several timely moments.  Unfortunately, the well dries up quickly as the jokes and characters become repetitive as the story moves into the third act where the writers predictably rely on a sentimental ending as these types of films always seem to do.

     Some of the best bits come courtesy of the supporting players, especially in a scene featuring “Silicon Valley” star Kumail Nanjiani who plays an over the top masseuse hired to give Jeanie some special treatment.  Alice Wetterlund’s Cousin Terry also has a steamy and memorable scene as Dave and Mike’s overly competitive lesbian family member.  The site of Sam Richardson as Jeanie’s husband to be, Eric, whom you would know instantly as a standout on HBO’s “Veep”, curiously plays in the background and isn’t given much to do at all.  In fact, being as though this is a wedding, Eric’s family, who is black and in obvious attendance, doesn’t say a single word during the entire film as Szymanski instead chooses to concentrate his efforts on the rest of the (white) characters.  Certainly, no one in the film ever bats an eye at the interracial relationship, but it’s also as if the black half of the family is invisible.  I wouldn’t even want to surmise as to why.

     The key scenes in the film all seem to blatantly steal from its classic predecessors.  One obvious example is when the group goes on an ATV excursion which ends with Jeanie being hit by one of the vehicles being driven by Dave, resulting in a very “Meet the Parents” like facial injury one day before the wedding.  “Mike and Dave” is loaded with these types of scenes where observant viewers will immediately conjure up images of scenes that were already done in significantly better films.  Even the raunchy sight gags and vulgar language from all involved wasn't enough to garner a minor chuckle from the audience I saw the film with, especially considering the majority of the third act is played with a sappy tone and a plot centering around undoing all of the wrong with a sudden burst of right.  Bottom line is we’ve seen all of this before but with a substantially funnier creative touch.  “Mike and Dave” starts out strong enough and even offers an appealing premise, but like most comedies of this kind, it runs out of gas long before it decides where it wants to go.  GRADE: C