Have you ever been watching a comedy in a packed cinema, and pretty much everyone is laughing except you? And you start to question whether you’re in a room full of idiots or maybe you’re the one with the problem? Welcome to my experience with Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates aka one of the most frustrating times I’ve had in a cinema this year.
Now I say “frustrating” because I love a good comedy. Even the gross-out ones. A few of my favourites film of the past few years have indeed fallen into these genres. Bridesmaids, Bad Neighbours, Spy, Trainwreck, The Hangover, Wedding Crashers, just to name a few. I also (usually) love Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. And yet Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is perhaps the most inexplicably terrible comedy I’ve seen so far in 2016.
Based loosely on the true story of two brothers, whose wacky adventures to find dates for their cousin’s wedding somehow led to online infamy and a book deal, Mike and Dave (Efron and Adam Devine…to be honest, I can’t even remember which one plays which) are the black-sheep of their family. Despite their best intentions to liven up familial gatherings, they somehow always manage to ruin every single event, shown to us in a series of home movies.
With the upcoming nuptials of their sister Jeannie (Sugar Lyn Beard, the film’s bright point), their parents (an underused Stephanie Faracy and Stephen Root) stage an intervention and demand the boys find two “nice girls” as dates for the impending Hawaiian wedding. Naturally, the lads decide the best way to find nice girls is by posting an advertisement online, offering a free trip to Hawaii for a week. What could possibly go wrong?
Enter Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), two very un-nice girls (hot mess would be the most appropriate description) who see the boys’ offer as an opportunity to escape their miserable lives. After a quick makeover to hide their true trashy selves, Tatiana organises a “chance” encounter with Mike and Dave to ensnare the advertised vacation, under the guise of actually being romantically interested in the two dimwits. Again, what could possibly go wrong?
Well, pretty much everything, including the movie going completely off the rails. We’re left to suffer through a relentless parade of raucous gags, each attempting to up-the-stakes in shock-value, but each falling completely flat and winding up mercifully unfunny. And what’s worse is the film’s incessant need to continually mention these events ad nauseum, in a strange attempt to somehow make them funnier in retrospect. They’re not. At all.
Particularly loathsome is a sequence featuring the bride-to-be receiving a tantric (i.e. orgasm-inducing) massage, thanks to an arrangement with the masseuse by Alice. How thoughtful of her. I’m no prude, but this bizarre display makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing, despite its desperate attempt to be the “moment” of the film. It may be, but for all the wrong reasons.
Ultimately the film’s failure falls to the actors. Efron once again delivers the same basic straight-man character he’s been trotting out for the past few years, while reminding us his only talent may be removing his shirt. Devine continues his attempt to be the millennial Jack Black, except far louder and far more annoying. Kendrick tries her best, but she’s far better than this, and she knows it. Likewise with Plaza, whose blunt sarcasm and sharp wit are one of the film’s few bright points.
While Mike and Dave Need Weddings Dates tries everything it can to be this generation’s Wedding Crashers (the film is even mentioned, in a bad attempt at meta-humour), it really only succeeds in making you love that film even more. This is a wedding film you’d be smart to RSVP “no” to.