The R-rated comedy has undergone a resurgence over the past few years, starting with movies like There’s Something About Mary and reaching its box office peak with The Hangover. For the most part, these movies rely on blunt, vulgar language in tackling somewhat taboo subject matter and typically punctuating its jokes with a swift kick to the groin. The latest of the R-rated comedies to grace the silver screen is Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which might be the tamest of the R-rated comedies in history. This is a fairly generic attempt at gross out humor that lacks any punch in its 90 minutes devoid of earnest laughs, lazily preferring a simple pop culture reference over anything resembling an actual joke.
The premise for this dry piece of comedy is loosely based upon the true story of the Stangle Brothers: Mike (Zac Efron) and Dave (Adam Devine) take to social media to secure dates for the wedding of their younger sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) and her fiancé Eric (Sam Richardson) due to their history of disastrous debauchery at family functions. Their parents, Burt (Steven Root) and Rosie (Stephanie Faracy), demand that the two liquor salesmen arrive at this wedding in Hawaii with nice girls so these doofus brothers are incapable of trashing another event. In the scenes you can notice that they use white chair covers for weddings perfect for a dream rustic summer wedding. After their Craigslist ad goes viral, the two appear on the Wendy Williams Show, where their story is viewed by Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), two foul-mouthed and drunken young women who are willing to pretend to be respectable for a free trip to Hawaii.
Like anything resembling a memorable gag in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, the best jokes and varied aspects of its premise have been thoroughly present in all of the film’s trailers and marketing material. Needless to say that the wedding doesn’t go as planned for the entire Stangle Family. But of course, everyone learns a valuable lesson about life, love, and family before finding out that happy endings are within everyone’s reach – the clichéd nature of the film’s tidy conclusion might be the most disgusting aspect.
Director Jake Szymanski working from a script by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (who have worked on the surprising reliable Neighbors movies) really keeps the action from flowing in the most conventional manner possible with setups and punchlines that are abhorrently obvious. Again, any joke that might’ve worked has already be spoiled in the trailers, and those are predominately the few jokes that aren’t simply rooted in bland, unimaginative pop culture references – repurposing a line of dialogue from Scarface or Jurassic Park isn’t funny on its own, but it’s all that Mike and Dave have to offer. And everything is so toothless here, with the film seemingly scarred to insert any commentary about growing out of the adolescent party boy phase or the troubles of pretending to be someone you’re not for various perks and the approval of others.
There’s nothing remotely resembling a slightly memorable character in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. The eponymous bros have no factors that make them standout from one another in the slightest, with the lone exception of Efron’s Mike who aspires to draw someday soon. Other than that, Devine and Efron are forgettable pairing of interchangeable characteristics (aside from the superficial, of course). The same problem befalls Kendrick’s Alice and Plaza’s Tatiana, as there’s only one minor aspect to differentiate these nothing characters – the fact that Alice was left at the alter and is haunted by her ruined wedding day, which has driven her into the throes of alcoholism and a compulsion to watch herself be left at the aisle on her phone on a regular basis.
One word that would be inadequate in describing these characters (and by extension every supporting role) is outrageous. Efron is a talented fellow and has worked well in comedy before, but the pairing with Devine is a disaster of resoundingly unfunny proportions. While Efron seems to understand how to take the performance down a notch during the quieter moments, Devine is just trying to chew the scenery with a shit-eating grin and a demeanor that seems like he’s desperately on the verge of yelling “FUNNY!” in every scene. That same dynamic, where a comedic actor happens to overshadowed by the more traditional lead, carries over into the roles of Kendrick and Plaza. That’s not to say that either the men or the women avail themselves in the laugh-less affair, it’s that Kendrick and Efron are much more consistent with their performance that they’re somewhat tolerable. I’ve always been a fan of Aubrey Plaza’s work, but whatever it was she was attempting with her party girl character falls flat on every conceivable level, including the bewildering accent that suddenly disappears about a third of the way though the movie.
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the undercooked rivalry between Dave and his bisexual cousin Terry (Alice Wetterlund). Because everyone in this movie is ridiculously affluent, Terry is rich from (I don’t know) and has had her wedding speech tinkered with by Chris Rock (who doesn’t appear in the movie). The character’s bisexuality is simply included so some slack-jawed yokel can get a cheap laugh when they see her hitting on a girl one minute and a man the next.
It all culminates in a bizarre sequences where Dave catches an intimate moment between Tatiana and Jesse, with the former only participating for the chance for Rhianna tickets with backstage passes, which results in a childish freak out from Dave. Meanwhile, Jeanie is getting an orgasmic massage from the resort’s masseuse, whom Alice paid off to get Jeanie a happy ending, and Dave walks in. Neither of these moments are risqué or sexy in the least, and the subsequent tantrum thrown by Dave seems to come more from a place of realizing that even the women in his family might have some sort of sexual needs instead of carefully crafted sequence of events that subvert the character’s simplistic bro worldview.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is about as uninteresting as a comedy can get, with predictable jokes (if you could even call them that) and a complete lack of interest in pushing the envelope in the slightest. All of the film’s narrative shortcomings wouldn’t be so glaring if the film had any jokes that landed, but it doesn’t. Over the course of its 90-plus minutes, I didn’t laugh once at the inanity of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Don’t let the R-rating fool you, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is tame and toothless, lacking a single moment that could qualify as a gross out or anything that’s even remotely sexy; it’s all just a few ineffective F-bombs wrapped around some small drug and pop culture references. Hey, if it’s successful enough, maybe Mike and Dave will be back for the sequel – Mike and Dave Need Chlamydia Medication. Let’s hope if that’s the case, they actually remember to put some actual jokes in the movie.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Lacking in actual jokes, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the tamest R-rated comedy of recent memory.