At the movies: “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”
Special to Lake Tahoe Action
MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES
* * (C)
Directed By Jake Szymanski
Starring Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, Sugar Lyn Beard, Alice Wetterlund, Stephen Root
Fox, Rated R, Comedy, 98 minutes
In “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” bachelor brothers Dave (Zac Efron) and Mike Stangle (Adam Devine) want little more than to get high and raise hell. As proven by their father’s (Stephen Root) home video montage, their antics reliably turn family gatherings into 911 calls.
Therefore, when their little sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) plans her Hawaiian destination wedding, she decrees that Dave and Mike must bring “nice girls” as dates, if they wish to attend, believing that female companionship will somehow curb their destructive behavior.
Liquor salesmen by trade, the brothers apparently don’t associate with girls — let alone nice girls. Mike suggests placing an ad on Craiglist, offering two “nice girls” an all-expense paid week in Hawaii as their wedding dates. Their ad goes viral, and the pair is soon guesting on a local talk show. Here, Dave and Mike’s plea for help is seen by best friends, party girls Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza).
The girls, unemployed cocktail waitresses, win the Hawaiian vacation by pretending to be one, a school teacher, and the other, a librarian. Tatiana, paired with Devine’s squirrelly Mike, feels no romantic connection, while Alice, assigned to Efron’s somewhat daft but hunky Dave, is totally smitten. Once in Hawaii, their nice-girl pretense crumbles and Tatiana ups the ante with her extreme behavior, challenging the guys (who are up for it!) to match her.
Meanwhile, Jeanie confides her wedding jitters to Alice, who seeks a unique stress-relieving remedy for Jeanie — an erotic massage by an East Indian practitioner. For her part, Tatiana is romantically pursued by Mike’s gay cousin (Alice Wetterlund), who is both uber successful and well-connected.
Playing the most insane character in television’s “Workaholics’s” trio, Adam Devine continues that character arc, trying whatever he believes will confer alpha-male status upon him. However, where a 30-minute sitcom script uses Devine’s WWE wrestler’s threatening facial expressions at carefully doled out intervals, the device is painfully overused here.
By a process of elimination, it falls to the girls to inject this film with what wicked, raunchy humor can be mustered. Aubrey Plaza, aiming her deadpan style with fretful accuracy, contributes several guffaws, and Sugar Lyn Beard’s bride-to-be Jeanie hilariously harbors paranoia beneath her little-girl countenance.
Each successful comedic moment emphasizes the film’s many other failed attempts, causing the story to drag while looking for what little plot exists to sustain the action. Writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien don’t understand that the female characters are their secret weapon, so they are uncertain of how to capitalize. Less Stangle Brothers, more Tatiana, Alice and Jeanie, would have been a good start.