Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
What happens when you take four of the hottest young comedic actors in Hollywood and put them in the same movie? In the past, studios have attempted to bring together dream teams of big-name stars, and it has had widely varying results. Surely a movie starring a principal characters from "Workaholics" and "Parks & Recreation" as well stars from Pitch Perfect and High School Musical would be able to deliver a fun and entertaining experience.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates tells the story of Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave Stangle (Zac Efron), two wild and crazy brothers who always manage to destroy their family gatherings. When they're younger sister Jeannie (Sugar Lyn Beard) is set to be married, she and their parents ask the boys to bring dates to her destination wedding in the hopes that the "nice girls" will help keep the brothers' antics at bay. Mike and Dave post an ad on Craiglist, stating they are looking for two girls to take on an expenses-paid trip to Hawaii, and thousands of women immediately respond and share the posting with everyone they know. Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), two struggling and out-of-work women looking to get away from their lives for a while, decide to con the boys into bringing them to Hawaii so they can soak up some rest and relaxation. When they arrive on the islands, however, Mike and Dave soon start to realize that these "nice" girls might not be as mellow and family-friendly as they had hoped.
The earliest trailers for this film made it seem as though it might offer a few good laughs here and there, but with any trailer for a comedy, you always have to wonder if the studios are filling it with the film's best bits in the hopes of getting your butt into the theater. While Mike and Dave does offer a few minor laughs, this is mostly an unfunny slog from start to finish. I didn't know a film with a runtime just under one hundred minutes could feel this slow and arduous. I don't think I cracked a smile during the first two-thirds of the film, and during its climactic moments, I found myself laughing more at the film's expense than at its merit. Not the best sign for a comedy.
I could easily spend time talking about the insanely predictable storyline or the fact that the overall writing by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien was incredibly shoddy, but at the end of the day, I don't think this film's key demographic really cares about the overall character arc. They want to hear jokes that push the raunch boundaries, and they want to hear them from some of their favorite funny actors, so in that respect, this movie lives and dies in the hands of its principal cast. Sadly, this cast has butterfingers.
I have personally never been much of an Adam Devine fan as I think he's simply been playing a version of his "Workaholics" character for the majority of his career (save for his decent guest appearances on "Modern Family"). He's bringing his status quo for Mike and Dave, playing the overgrown man-child who's more interested in having fun and getting laid than achieving any kind of life solidity. Zac Efron has finally shed his High School Musical stigma by appearing in a few feature films including the highly successful Neighbors franchise for which he garnered praise for his comedic turn. Of the four main characters in this film, Efron delivers the best performance, bringing a little bit of depth to a character that is tangibly underwritten. Our two female leads don't fare much better, and a lot of it comes down to the writing. Aubrey Plaza has made a name for herself playing shy and awkward characters, but here she plays against type and attempts to command the screen as the risqué and outspoken foil to Anna Kendrick's goofy aloofness. Plaza's break from type is fun to watch but ultimately suffers from being poorly-written and lacking true depth. I never fully believed Kendrick's character for much of the same reason, and it felt like she compensated for the lack of depth by playing the character over-the-top. I constantly had to remind myself that Anna Kendrick is an Oscar-nominated actress because she's that far from her potential here.
A few of the supporting characters are serviceable although no one truly stands above the rest. Sugar Lyn Beard plays sister Jeannie, and for the most part she's fine, save for one particular scene involving a special massage where she definitely chews the scenery. Her fiancé Eric, portrayed by Sam Richardson, might be the most consistent character in the film, but he isn't given enough screen-time for us truly to care about his well-being. If anyone in the film rubbed me the wrong way, it has to be Alice Wetterlund who played Cousin Terry. Her character has a constant tiff with Devine, and in her every moment on-screen, I felt as though the two were simply trying to out-shine the other in typical Devine fashion. Were the character not so close to the one I've grown to know and dislike from Adam Devine, I might have liked Wetterlund a little more, but as it stands, it just got very old very fast.
As you can see, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates simply doesn't have enough falling in its favor. The story is flimsy, the characters are poorly-written, and the overall direction is relatively bland. All of that would have been forgivable, however, had this quartet of comedic stars been able to improv their way to a handful of solid jokes and gags. This film really just feels like the cast and crew wanted an excuse to head down to Hawaii for a little while, and they just happened to make a movie while they were there. When I saw the movie, I was in a theater occupied by a large percentage of college-aged men, who I think would fall under this film's demographic. I think one of the most telling signs that Mike and Dave is a flop was the fact that none of them even managed to chuckle throughout the entire film. If you can't hit your own demographic, you're not going to be able to hit everyone else.