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Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates - Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

A RAUCOUS comedy clearly designed to invoke the spirit of Frat Pack comedies such as The Wedding Crashers (which it references), Mike and Dave Needing Wedding Dates also prides itself on being one of the few mainstream comedies to offer equal opportunities to its cast.

It’s a shame, then, that those opportunities resort so desperately to low-brow humour or just plain stupidity.

First-time director Jake Szymanski assembles a very good cast and sets up some interesting scenarios (the central one of which is inspired by a true story) but then fails to make good use of any of them.

The story focuses on two hard partying brothers, Mike (Zac Efron) and Dave (Adam Devine), as they are told by their long-suffering parents to find suitable dates for their sister’s forthcoming wedding in order to avoid ruining it as they have, spectacularly, every other family bash they’ve attended.

Desperate to keep their sister Rosie (Stephanie Faracy) – if not their parents – happy, the siblings place an ad on Craig’s List that goes viral, prompting them to become Internet sensations and TV celebrities.

Enter Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), two utterly inept but equally hard partying waitresses, who get in touch with the guys and win them over by pretending to be nice. It’s not long before their actions bring about exactly the kind of chaos that Mike and Dave’s parents were seeking to avoid.

As mentioned, there’s plenty of scope for some genuinely funny non-PC laughs in Mike and Dave, while it is undoubtedly refreshing to see the girls competing with (and frequently outdoing) the boys in the outrageous stakes.

But while the film does have its moments, and the cast are certainly game for anything, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates struggles to escape the feeling that it is more desperate to shock than put forward any characters worth empathising with. And the jokes quickly start to feel just plain desperate.

Of the set pieces, a prolonged erotic massage is over-cooked and actually kind of exploitative when you stop to consider what is really happening, while another extended gag involving ecstasy and vaginal hair once more feels stretched to breaking point – and kind of tacky. Indeed, as feminist leaning as the film pretends to be, it’s the women who are more often than not short-changed in the nudity stakes, or lingering shots of their bodies [or behinds].

The interplay between the principal players also suffers from a lack of restraint. Hence, some of the ad-libbing goes on forever and feels forced, while those jokes that were probably pre-written err towards being just plain stupid – and not in an endearing way.

As a result, the performances, as well as the film itself, suffer. Kendrick, usually a reliable scene-stealer in any film, here looks uninspired by the material and far from her usually highly appealing self, while partner-in-crime Plaza also seems to be on auto-pilot, content to offer up another of those feisty loners with a heart she honed to perfection on Parks & Recreation (but which here seems old).

Devine, for his part, seems to be over compensating for the flimsy material by dialling the crazy/juvenile way up (and becoming irritating as a result), while little sister Faracy is saddled with one of the most annoying voices I can remember in a movie for some time – almost as though she’s uttering every line through the ‘aid’ of a helium balloon.

If anything, it’s Efron who provides the most engaging presence, honing his comedic ability to present someone who at least gets to go on his own journey of discovery. There’s humility to offset the crazy, even if he’s doing this kind of thing one too many times.

The best that can be said for Szymanski’s film is that it is mercifully short. But you kind of know you’re onto a lost cause when even the outtakes at the end of the movie struggle to generate any laughs. If anything, it’s better writers that Mike and Dave needed before they embarked on finding their wedding dates.

On the whole, this is formulaic and frustratingly short on laughs.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 98mins
UK Release Date: August 10, 2016