Director: Jake Szymanski
Cast: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick
Running Time: 98 minutes
Release Date: August 10th
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the greatest waste of resources since the BP oil spill, and while it poses a less destructive risk to our physical environment than that, this film is a blight on our cultural landscape. Its pathetic attempts at jokes are gaping lesions, eating away at the barely-bloomed seedlings that are the bright young cast, who wither and die in a film ‘based on the life stories of Mike and Dave Stangle’ (giving the source material as much substance as Jedward’s Twitter account), leaving audiences with nothing to eat.
The titular tits, Mike (Devine) and Dave (Efron), are brothers in their mid-20s who are instructed by their parents to find dates in advance of their sister Jeanie’s wedding, so as to prevent them ‘ruining’ the event as they have done every significant family party in recent history. Presumably because they wanted a life story for which they could later sell the movie rights, to make more than just their immediate family members suffer, or because they actually have no friends, Mike and Dave advertise on Craigslist for girls to accompany them to the luxury Hawaiian wedding, all expenses paid. Their story goes viral, attracting the attention of Tatiana (Plaza) and Alice (Kendrick), two party girls who superficially ‘clean up’ to win the boys over for a free holiday. Once they get to Oahu, all sorts of shenanigans ensue with unorthodox Indian masseurs, predatory gay cousins, and their horny sister breaking into a horse sanctuary while high on ecstasy.
I wish any of this was funny. 2016 could have been a tentpole year for bro-comedy, with Mike and Dave ranking alongside the surprisingly enjoyable Bad Neighbours 2, and Richard Linklater’s rose-tinted college athlete movie Everybody Wants Some!! But this is more of a Dirty Grandpa (also starring Efron and Plaza) – weak, lowest common denominator humour, bizarrely erratic character development, in bad taste for its own sake, which leaves a lingering question mark over the motives of everyone involved.
The film’s occasional attempts at self-awareness, at laughing at Mike and Dave rather than with them, are tempered by the ugly, exaggerated quality of what or whoever threatens them – the aforementioned lesbian, non-white man, and sexually-awakened family member – that alienated me to a similar degree to the protagonists, but for different reasons: It’s still all shot through a straight white male gaze, frequently punching down. Sure, let Tatiana and Alice be savvy, unruly women, as long as they wear swimwear for half the movie and are still ultimately attainable in all the ways that matter to these dimwits. Mike and Dave can be uncomfortable around their naked sister, as long as other female characters also make jokes about her pubic hair. Mike and Dave’s discomfort is triggered for different reasons than my own, and their obnoxious hyper-reactions aren’t funny, leaning on shouting as an effective punchline. Don’t they know they could just write a scathing review of events and put it on the internet?
The pacing and structure is fine, but that’s because it sticks to an existing bro-comedy template, hitting the same beats as Step Brothers, Wedding Crashers, The Hangover. Yet Mike and Dave lacks the emotional or narrative centre, powerhouse performances, or really sharp jokes, that make these other films memorable, instead relying on pop culture references, raunchy shock value, and a couple of lines that indicate Dave wants to ‘do something with his life’ for character development. With the boys’ terrible behaviour ultimately validated in a finale where they essentially dry-hump the girls on stage to Montell Jordan’s ‘This Is How We Do It’, we can only hope that song is not a definitive mission statement for the genre, touting its lazy, revolting status as some sort of platonic ideal. Mike and Dave don’t need wedding dates. They need to be stood up.