UK Release Date: 10th August 2016
Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: Jake Szymanski
Writer: Andrew J Cohen, Brendan O’Brien
Starring: Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Sugar Lyn Beard, Sam Richardson, Stephen Root
Synopsis: Two hard-partying brothers are told that they must bring nice dates to their sister’s wedding, but the girls they find aren’t the kind to straighten the lads out.
The bro comedy might as well be an acknowledged sub-genre in the modern era, with films like The Hangover having carved out a niche for tightly bonded men to make jokes about dicks in blockbuster, part-improvised comedy movies. Hollywood’s endless string of funnymen have been given ample opportunities to spew as many takes as they like in movies like Bad Neighbours and Anchorman. The latest one of those movies, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, flips the formula a little by having the standard bro recipe altered with the addition of two women who are just as rude, just as crass and just as funny as the guys.
Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are laddish brothers who regularly ruin family gatherings with their reckless drunken antics. Their sister, Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard), is due to be married and father Burt (Stephen Root) decides that he needs to do something to prevent the boys from causing their usual problems on the day. He orders them to find nice girls to take to the wedding as dates. After posting an ad on Craigslist and appearing on a talk show when the ad goes viral, Mike and Dave meet Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and young divorcee Alice (Anna Kendrick), who pretend to be balanced professionals, but actually party even harder than the guys.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is not a movie that has any delusions of grandeur. It’s a big, broad R-rated comedy with the usual array of scatological sniping, crude sex gags and pop culture references. There’s very little in the way of originality in the film and if you were to take a guess at the plot after the first five minutes, you’d almost certainly be able to plan out the main beats. Many of the jokes rest on problematic tropes and stereotypes, including a massage scene that is eye-rolling in its commitment to the tired “happy ending” gag that just about everyone in the industry must be sick to death of hearing.
Fortunately, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates benefits from four of the most talented comedic actors on the planet. Zac Efron has gone from his pretty boy musical roots to become a wonderful comedic performer and Anna Kendrick brings a real energy to the scenes in which she appears, including the utterly perfect delivery of the line “I cannot continue to wear this horse”. Meanwhile, Aubrey Plaza excels in the role of foul-mouthed, sex-loving woman that she has perfected in her recent appearances. Plaza, however, gives her character a touch more depth and vulnerability to many of her other roles and it is that which gives the finale of this film a surprising core of emotion.
The final piece of the puzzle in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is Adam DeVine, best known up until now as Bumper in the Pitch Perfect movies. He is even better in this movie, really thriving in the improvisational sequences and throwing himself wholeheartedly into his role. His gurning and physicality brings to mind the rubbery-faced slapstick of Jim Carrey at his peak and it is DeVine’s no-holds-barred commitment to the film that helps to elevate the relatively standard material into something that is riotous and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish.
For all of its willingness to lean on clichés and embrace lazy humour, there’s a joy and sense of fun in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates that makes it really hard to dislike. All of the central performers throw themselves wildly at the material and attack it with real glee, papering over its shortcomings with searing comic turns that are incredibly memorable and lovable, despite the fact that these characters are considerably more than 50 shades of fucked up.
Pop or Poop?
There’s no mistaking Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates for something it isn’t. It’s a big, broad comedy with swear words and sex jokes aplenty. The difference is that they are delivered by four actors at the top of their game, who are sublimely committed to what they are doing. They elevate the material throughout to ensure that the film emerges as an entertaining and genuinely funny comedy movie.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.