Movies ask us to accept things that seem unlikely. The new comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates asks us to believe, among other things, that Zac Efron has a hard time finding a date. The movie somewhat addresses that but not really.
Here’s a SPOILER-FREE review.
The opening credits for Mike and Dave introduce us to the Stangle brothers, Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Efron). During these slow motion tracking shots, we see the two brothers as the life of the party, having fun and spreading joy at various family outings.
Then the boys get back to their shared apartment (they live and work together as it is) to find their parents, sister Jeanie, and Jeanie’s fiancé Eric. The group has come with an ultimatum. Since the brothers tend to ruin family parties, they need to bring a pair of nice, respectable girls to Jeanie’s destination wedding in Hawaii. After some protests from Mike and Dave, their family plays home movie footage of those self-same parties from the opening credits at regular speed, where we see that Mike and Dave are not so much life of the party types as highly destructive Tasmanian Devil types. All the parties had some sort of awful, party-ruining carnage that were a direct result of Mike and Dave doing the very things the two brothers assumed made them the life of the party.
But where do these two idiots go to find a date? Well, the internet for starters, and that leads them to Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick). The two girls (nicknamed “T and A” by Tatiana at one point) are essentially female versions of Mike and Dave. Alice is suffering from a bad case of a broken heart, and as a result, Tatiana decides they need to take her on this promised free trip to Hawaii with the two Stangles. One quick disguise as “nice” girls, and the foursome are off for the Aloha state.
The farcical situation that follows is mostly fun. Efron and Kendrick’s characters bond fairly quickly. In point of fact, both Dave and Alice are said to be basically better people than Mike and Tatiana at various points, where Dave is basically sticking by the big brother that stuck with him while Alice might be less self-destructive were it not for the incident that drove Tatiana to want to take her best friend to Hawaii in the first place. Plaza’s Tatiana is a perennial schemer, someone one step ahead of hapless Mike in many ways. The biggest problem among the four main cast members is Devine. His Mike is prone to a lot of shouting and overreaction, behavior that comes across as more cartoonish than the other three. Yes, this is a slapstick comedy and that sort of buffoonery isn’t necessarily inappropriate, but since Devine doesn’t match up with the other three in terms of tone, going broader than any of the others seem willing to go, it does hurt the movie somewhat.
Based very, very, very loosely on a true story, the movie works as something that mostly just doesn’t stop once it starts. There were a few laughs to be had, while an underlying theme of self-deception seems more a missed opportunity than anything else. As self-centered as the foursome all are, their one concern is actually that they all care about poor, abused Jeanie. Her brothers vowed to find nice girl dates out of affection for her, and jilted Alice makes multiple attempts to make the worried bride feel better. Even Tatiana immediately goes to Jeanie when the guilt of her deception finally sinks in. The movie’s not likely to linger much for the viewer, but this is one of those comedies that I know if I didn’t see on my own, I would have seen at some point in the future when I visited my brother. That’s actually how I saw both The 40 Year Old Virgin and Trainwreck, though Mike and Dave are nowhere near the calibre of those two films. Let’s give this seven and a half ill-advised ecstasy trips out of ten.