MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES, US, 2016. Starring Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root, Stefanie Faracy, Sugar Lyn Beard, Sam Richardson. Directed by Jake Szymanski. 97 minutes. rated MA (Strong sexual references, drug use and coarse language).
You’re right. The title gives the tone away. Well, it is not exactly Wedding Crashers because the two destructive characters, Mike and Dave, are actually the brothers of the bride. This doesn’t stop them crashing too many disasters on the way.
Every three months or so, Hollywood seems to release yet another raucous and crass comedy (and quite a number of them with Zac Efron, 2016 alone with Dirty Grandpa and Bad Neighbours 2).
At various times while watching the film, the word that seemed to emerge was “stupid” or “stupidity”. Admittedly, Mike and Dave (allegedly based on real-life characters!) are meant to be stupid and for quite a while we watch how stupid they can be. Perhaps this is something of a compliment to Zac Efron but he is not necessarily convincing as being stupid – he has a talent for drawing - despite what the screenplay asks him to do. There are some elements of sense below the surface. On the other hand, and this is something of a backhanded compliment to Adam Devine, he is completely persuasive as the stupid older brother, Mike, who pressurises bar owners to buy his alcohol, and admits that people use words he does not know the meaning of.
The boys’ parents have become so exasperated with the behaviour of their sons that they summon them to a summit, along with their daughter and her fiance, to lay down the law – that if they are going to come to the wedding in Honolulu, they have to find wedding dates, very sensible and good mannered girls.
Cut to Tatiana and Alicia, who are not to be underestimated in the stupid stakes. Alicia is played by Anna Kendrick, who seems to be going through the raunchy phase of her career after Mr Right, as well as Aubrey Plaza, Tatiana, who is just as raucous in Dirty Grandpa. After the boys have interviewed all kinds of women wanting to go with them to Hawaii and have appeared on a television talk show, the girls decide they need a holiday and will try to put on a convincing act, starting with Tatiana being knocked over by a car as soon as the boys come out of a restaurant and they rescue her.
There is plenty of raunch for the millions who do enjoy this kind of thing, especially with the bride being set up with a no clothes barred masseur to loosen her up – followed by an ecstasy and other substances naked folly. The boys’ cousin comes on to Tatiana in a sauna.
And, as if that isn’t bad enough, during the rehearsal dinner, Mike and Dave, behind the screen, are accidentally connected to the microphone and all their squabbles and activities revealed to all and sundry.
As with so many of these comedies, all the rough and coarseness comes at the beginning and then there is a moral moment and some kind of reform – and this does happen here.
Which means that there are some moments, some episodes and dialogue where the characters actually do take stock of themselves, admit their stupidities, acknowledge the covering over their low self-esteem with their carry on. Whether this redeems the whole film can be discussed – but, at least, amongst the dross, there are some shining moments.
Fox Released July 7th
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.