Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Jake Szymanski’s moribund comedy aims for high concept, base-level laughs in the way that a YouTube video entitled “Small Child Drops Ice Cream on Smaller Child” does, or the classic Simpsons short movie “Man Gets Hit by Football”. Fair enough, I guess, if the movie delivers on its promise of entertainment. Strictly speaking, Mike and Dave do get their wedding dates (within the first twenty minutes of the movie, actually) so I guess this isn’t a case of false advertising. But Mike and Dave also need a few more laughs, to be a lot less creepy and almost certainly a more succinct title.
Adam Devine and Zac Efron play Mike and Dave respectively, a pair of slacker brothers with a reputation for going off the rails at family gatherings. With this in mind, they are persuaded by their parents to bring a pair of dates to their sister’s Hawaii wedding in order to keep them in check. As both brothers are presently single, they go on television to spread the word that they’re offering two lucky ladies an all-expenses trip to Hawaii (because that’s a thing you can do, apparently). Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza), a pair of equally dense ladies, spot the brothers and decide to show an interest in them in order to blag a free trip to paradise and help Alice get over her recent jilting at the altar.
There’s a peculiar “last among equals” sort of approach to this in that everyone, and I mean everyone, is as teeth-grindingly dim-witted as the next. In fairness, the movie doesn’t play favourites with its characters so there is a semi-jovial sense of idiocy to the whole thing. The problem is that, although you don’t mind the idea of the foursome bumbling around into some piece of quasi-sexual tomfoolery, in practice it all becomes a pretty crushing bore; like watching a cheerfully rude pop-punk music video on repeat for a solid 24 hours while downing endless Caribbean- themed, alcohol-free cocktails.
The current, irritating penchant for what appears to be chiefly improvised comedy in American movies looks to have reared its head again. Like the feebly unhappy recent Ghostbusters remake, Mike and Dave too often sputters out into extended riffs or inane shouting matches. I’m troubled too, by the extent of Alice and Tatiana slovenliness, which seems to be a calculated attempt to appeal to small boys rather than girls. Tatiana likes a toke and Alice can’t get enough of ecstasy and they both watch porn and masturbate together. Is this equality in action, a liberal and frank discussion about how women can be just as dense and rude as men? Possibly, but maybe it’s just the ramblings of a couple of straight, geeky guys pouring their adolescent wank-fantasies out onto the page. I genuinely can’t decide. Perhaps if it was funnier I’d find it much less alarming.
| Chris Banks
Comedy, Romance | USA, 2016 | 15 | 20th Century Fox | 10th August 2016 (UK) | Dir. Jake Szymanski | Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root, Sugar Lyn Beard