THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES"
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a pathetic, laughless comedy. The only one worse this year is January's Dirty Grandpa. Coincidentally, both pictures star Zac Efron and Aubrey Plaza. One more lousy R-rated comedy together, and they'll have created a perfect trifecta of crap. This is the kind of comedy that thinks it's hilarious to make jokes about a woman with an excess of pubic hair. Because what could be funnier than that, aside from just about everything else in the world that doesn't involve someone being grievously harmed?
Efron and Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect) play Dave and Mike Stangle, two hard-partying brothers with a knack for screwing up family gatherings with their immature behavior and constant womanizing. With little sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) about to get married in Hawaii, their parents (Stephen Root and Stephanie Faracy) insist that they bring proper dates to the wedding to prevent them from indulging in unpleasant shenanigans. The guys place an ad for nice girls on Craigslist, which goes viral, subsequently attracting the notice of Tatiana (Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), who are essentially their female equivalents. Seeing an opportunity for a free trip, the women fancy themselves up and snag the invite. Once in Hawaii, though, their own bad behavior creates a series of catastrophes for Mike and Dave.
The obvious comparison here is to the movies of Seth Rogen, who utilizes many of the same subjects (juvenile behavior, drugs, sex) to earn laughs. The difference is that in Rogen's pictures, which he usually co-writes and produces, the characters are likable and there's always some kind of relatable theme underneath the crass humor. Neighbors, for instance, was about mature adults longing for their more carefree days, while The Night Before looked at the meaning of long-term friendships.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates fails miserably on both counts. The characters are uniformly terrible, unlikable people – self-absorbed, obnoxious, and shallow. Nothing about any of them is remotely charming, meaning that you get the joy of spending ninety-eight very long minutes with four cretins you wouldn't spend ninety-eight seconds with in real life. Compounding that problem is the fact that all four actors mug shamelessly for the camera throughout. Every performance is pitched to the back row, ensuring that you get tired of Mike, Dave, Tatiana, and Alice long before the film ends.
Story-wise, the situation is even grimmer. The screenplay by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien (who, believe it or not, wrote the aforementioned Neighbors) substitutes lazy, contrived vulgarities for plot points. Mike and Dave's cousin Terry (Alice Wetterlund), for example, is a lesbian whose primary function is to allow for a gag in which Tatiana digitally penetrates her. Terry could have been, among many worthwhile things, someone who sees through the boys' misogynist behavior and calls them on it. But no, she's a punchline. Any rare attempt the story makes at sincerity falls similarly flat. You could probably guess that Dave and Alice start to fall in love. You could probably also guess that she isn't really the sleazy chick she outwardly seems to be. She's wounded and confused and – well, it doesn't matter because that idea isn't developed in any meaningful way.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is many things: a showcase for labored sex gags, a massive waste of talent, an exercise in tedium, and so on. At their best, raunchy comedies are funny in an almost shocking way that leaves you laughing and gasping simultaneously. This one, with its screechy performances and uninspired jokes, just leaves you sitting in agony. Forget women. Mike and Dave need a better script. A much better one.
( out of four)
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 38 minutes.
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