Inspired by “true” events, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a screwball comedy with the potential to edge towards a smarter farce. More favorable than a certain Adam Sandler Hawaiian vacation comedy, if at times no less offensive, the film delivers a few big laughs even if a few notes fall flat along the way. Operating at full throttle, web short and TV vet Jake Szymanski lets the inmates run the asylum while allowing Aubrey Plaza to break out of her shell; here she’s shed that awkwardness thanks to weed and booze.
The plot is as direct as can be. Dave (Zac Efron) and Mike Stangle (Adam DeVine) have ruined many a family affair with well-intentioned but disruptive antics and are given an ultimatum: their mom (Stephanie Faracy) and dad (Stephen Root) tell them to find nice, respectable girls to bring to their sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding or stay home. The boys sell the position on Craigslist and are met with a montage of awkward, somewhat LGBTQ-phobic stereotypes including sex workers, the gender fluid, the bi-curious and the dimwitted. Tatiana (Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), recently fired for partying on the job, catch the boys on Wendy Williams and crash the party — cut to Hawaii.
The Stangles and their extended family aren’t quite an odd bunch. Mom and dad seem approving of Dave and Mike’s lifestyle and their alcohol business (little is said about that, actually) as well as bringing total strangers to the wedding party. Tatiana and Alice at first make a good impression, Alice helps Jeanie unwind with an erotic message while Tatiana gives into the advances of bisexual Cousin Terry (Alice Wetterlund) for Rihanna tickets in a sequence that inspires laughs you might not be proud of yourself for giving in to.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates throws a fair amount at the wall; some of it sticks, while other jokes flop — and quite hard. DeVine’s Mike seems to be trying too hard and its no wonder he’s eaten alive by Plaza’s Tatiana both in the film and on screen – his performance occasionally veers into the kind of over-the-top caricature that finds itself at the point of diminishing returns. Then again, comedy is entirely subjective and I have no doubt those seeking a break from the harsh reality of current events will find some sanctuary here.
As far as farces go, it’s all quite predictable. From Bad Santa to Just Go With It, you’ve seen these beats elsewhere and you can probably predict where its all going. It rarely departs from its established playbook, yet with a certain energy level, it marks a promising debut for Szymanski, even if Kendrick and Efron — normally the highlight of whatever they’re in — aren’t working up to their full potential here. Plaza again steals the show, giving a performance that garners major laughs as she’s grown up into the woman that her character Brandy Klark of The To Do List would have sought counseling to avoid becoming.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a funny-enough summer comedy that never quite breaks free from the countless raunchy iterations that have come before it. It might have, had key pieces of information been withheld. Then again, that might not be how the Stangle family rolls.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is now in wide release.