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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 15, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 29
Mike and Dave proves Anna and Aubrey deserve better scripts
Arts & Entertainment
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Mike and Dave proves Anna and Aubrey deserve better scripts

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

MIKE AND DAVE
NEED WEDDING DATES
Now playing


Brothers Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave Stangle (Zac Efron) are fun to be around, their hard-partying, go-for-broke antics amusing everyone they come into contact with. Only problem, they also manage to inadvertently wreck every family gathering they are a part of, and with that being the case younger sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) orders the two to not arrive at her Hawaiian wedding stag. If they do? She's given their father Burt (Stephen Root) permission to send them packing, and considering just how much the young woman loves and adores her brothers this is the last thing she wants to happen.

In need of dates for the wedding, Mike and Dave go on a quest to find the perfect women to join them in Hawaii for Jeanie's nuptials. When Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) drop into their lives, they believe they've found them, the two ladies appearing to be, not just warm-hearted and emotionally genuine, but also just the type of smart, successful and independent go-getters their entire family will approve of. So it's off to the Hawaiian Islands for all four of them, Mike and Dave excited to be following through on Jeanie's request certain her wedding is about to go off without a single solitary hitch.

Of course, that's not what happens in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Alice and Tatiana are not sweet-natured, twinkly-eyed girls next door. The two male Stangle children almost can't help themselves when stupidity and chaos come calling. It's the type of raunchy, go-for-broke comedic scenario R-rated tales of absurdity like this are built on, director Jake Szymanski and writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien (the pair behind both Neighbors flicks) not skimping in their quest to shock, offend and hopefully produce a theatre overflowing in laughter.

Which makes my silence during the promo screening disappointing. I didn't respond to this story, didn't care about Mike or Dave, watching them be so idiotically stupid not doing anything for me. The pair of numbskulls never become fully-formed characters. They're dimwits, nothing more, nothing less, and with little else happening around them that captured my attention spending so much time with these two brothers turned out to be massively irritating. Not that I didn't laugh. I did. There are a handful of absurd, undeniably silly moments that got me to snicker. There is also an underlying sweetness to Cohen and O'Brien's script that is moderately surprising, and even if there's not a lot of story cohesion going on there is just enough of it to make sitting through the movie all the way to the end somewhat easy to do. As goofy and as raucous as things are, as stupid as it undeniably is, the fact the filmmakers have their hearts in the right place does go a fairly long way, and as such I imagine there will be a number of people who end up enjoying this madness far more than I did.

It helps that, as ill-conceived and at times ugly as their characters might be, Kendrick and Plaza are so gosh darn terrific watching them navigate their way through this rubbish can be magical. The two of them are a sparkling comedic team, riffing off one another with ease. Even when the filmmakers transform Alice and Tatiana into nothing more than male fantasy figures who are just as uncouth and socially inveterate as any man, the actresses are dynamite, Kendrick in particular, each lighting up the screen with a ferocious glee that's inspiring.

But gosh did I find a lot of this tiresome. Devine, who can be appealing as a minor player, adding jolts of comedic inspiration in films as wildly divergent as Pitch Perfect and The Final Girls, is close to unbearable as a lead, his one-note antics growing increasingly tiresome as events progress. As for Efron, he's fine, as pretty much always, and his fearless abandon as it pertains to his willingness to look like a total dumbass is as commendable as ever. Yet he's just as clearly going through the motions, having done this so many times now he's on the verge of becoming typecast, and as such I got the feeling he was here to pick up a paycheck and very little else.

The slapdash quality of the filmmaking does no one any favors, the sloppiness in regards to narrative cohesion close to nonexistent. There is no sense of continuity, things fitting together more because they have to in order for events to keep cascading out of control more than because the story itself requires them to in order for one piece to snuggly fit with the another sitting right there next to it. While I won't say Szymanski does a bad job of assembling this nonsense into a single whole, I just as clearly cannot claim his handling is as confident or as exact as it needs to be, and as such the film spirals outside of his control far too often.

With all that being so, it really is a testament to just how superb both Kendrick and Plaza are (and I should probably add Beard, too, as she's pretty good as well) that I didn't despise Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, let alone that I could end up taking away something moderately close to enjoyment out of any one part of it. While the movie isn't something I can recommend, this does not mean I did not laugh, and for fans of the two actresses watching it isn't the type of unendurable chore it far too easily could have been.

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