A Review of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates by Nick Olszyk
MPAA Rating, R
USCCB Rating, O
Reel Rating, Two Reels
It must be said for the sake of honesty that Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a really stupid movie with many immoral qualities. Yet in this same spirit, it must also be said that my wife and I, enjoying a rare moment without our children, had a wonderful time. Even when following the common conventions of the genre and adjusting content for adults, respect for common decency must always remain. While certainly entertaining, Wedding Dates ignored this fact many times, not enough to be considered a total disgrace but enough to sour an otherwise sweet and enjoyable romp.
Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) Stangle, your typical late twentysomething man-children, are brothers still living in a rundown apartment selling their own brand of liquor with dubious marketing techniques. They have a bad history of ruining family events, so their father insists that they bring dates to their baby sister Jeanie’s wedding. “I don’t want you going stag and riling each other up,” he fumes. Fortunately, she is the only thing they love more than lighting fireworks from their crotch. Their quest goes viral after posting a craigslist ad, insisting they only want “nice girls.” This catches the attention of the equaling irresponsible twentysomething woman-children Tatiana (Audrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), who feign respectability to get a free trip to Hawaii. Yet things quickly get out of hand as their ruse unravels and the Stangle boys find themselves in more trouble than ever.
Here is a confession that should never leave the mouth a respectable male, but after science fiction, romantic comedy is my favorite genre. The act of falling in love is an awkward yet gentle dance with misinterpretations and farce, best summarized by Owl from Bambi:
You're walking along, minding your own business. You're looking neither to the left, nor to the right, when all of a sudden you run smack into a pretty face. You begin to get weak in the knees. Your head's in a whirl! Then you feel light as a feather; and before you know it, you're walking on air. Then you know what? You're knocked for a loop, and you completely lose your head! It can happen to anybody. So you'd better be careful.
The joy of this adventure is seeing how the couple, or in this case couples, will eventually get together. Love involves letting someone in and letting yourself out, which is always uncomfortable. Yet the other person is doing the same, and that is what creates great comedy.
Wedding Dates begins promisingly by having the girls in on the secret before the boys. Think Some Like It Hot but with vastly inferior dialogue. The word “dialogue” is used specifically because the story process and character development is pretty sophisticated, but there seems to be a five f-word per scene minimum. The best aspect is the acting. DeVine, Efron, Plaza, and Oscar-nominated (and Twilight alum) Kendrick are all young actors at the top of their game. Plaza especially is a comic genius who could make the New York phone book sound funny.
The setup is incredibly well done and holds tremendous promise, yet at almost exactly halfway, it crashes, burns, and only occasionally recovers. It is far more graphic than necessary, well beyond its R-rating. A perfect example is a scene where Alice, in her own friendly but disturbed way, discretely pays to get Jeanie a massage with a bit more than usual. It’s a scene that could be funny if handled properly, but instead the audience is treated to something that would make Hugh Hefner blush. It does not serve the story and takes the viewer completely out of the experience. Comedy often involves upsetting social norms but must happen in a manner that does not offend. Wedding Dates is full of scenes that offend, offend again, and keep going.
Surprisingly, these characters, despite their poor behavior, remain entirely loveable and even profound at times. They are all damaged and act out because they have no other outlet. They deserve a film that challenged their shenanigans rather than indulged in them. Then they would get a happy ending that didn’t involve scented candles and regret.