by Cassie Ochoa
There are a multitude of great comedians who work in pairs, some use their companion as a counterpoint and some use their companion as an extreme version of themselves. Adam DeVine and Zac Efron in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates use themselves as extremes of each other, with DeVine being a louder and brasher version of Efron. So what happens when you take that same aesthetic and apply it to two female characters mirroring the male duo? That is the central question in the film: how far will the guys let the girls go?
The plot for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is nearly all in the title; in order to curb the Stangle brothers’ needlessly destructive stag celebrations at the Stangle sister’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) upcoming wedding, Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) put out a Craigslist ad to get “nice girls” for wedding dates. Enter Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), two best friends who need a vacation after Alice’s disastrous wedding and subsequent drunken breakdown that leads to the two being fired. They see the brothers on The Wendy Williams Show and decide to try their hand at being nice girls, if only for Hawaii.
The trailer for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates comes across as a millennial version of Wedding Crashers. Mike and Dave pays its respects to that film with a plot point, as well as a shared prevalence of frat-esque sex jokes and slapstick moments. It’s also a lot nicer of a film in terms of political correctness, with less of a fuss given to race and gender and more towards the actual personalities of the characters. Mike is not disturbed by his Cousin Terry (Alice Wetterlund) being bisexual, but he is very disturbed that she hits on Tatiana due to the rivalry between the cousins.
On a technical level, the film is solidly shot. The action scenes are well directed by first-time feature director Jake Szymanski, and the physical comedy scenes are fantastic. Zac Efron and Adam DeVine do a great job, but what they’re given are table scraps. Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza have the meatier roles as the bad girls pretending to be good. Both actresses depict the trouble of blending the nastier sides with the false façades.
What is pleasantly surprising about the film is the emotional tone that surfaces in the third act. The first two acts rely heavily on the self-absorbed antics of the main characters. So, when the film suddenly grows a heart, it’s a nice shock. None of the characters are entirely sympathetic, but the film’s casting ensures that it will definitely satisfy that middle-of-summer comedy slot.