Saturday, July 09, 2016

More Than They Registered For

Mike and Dave Need Weddings Dates, and you’ve gots to check out how they go about gettin’ ’em for a good time.

For real.

A harmless, yet edgy trifle for the millennial set starring the minor-superstar comedic stylings of Zac Efron; Anna Kendrick; the invaluable Adam Devine, Kendricks Pitch Perfect co-star; and Aubrey Plaza, who up until this point you probably remember best from TV’s Parks and Recreation, this Hawaii-set story was inspired by a legit pair of brothers who turned to Craigslist to meet young ladies they could take to their cousin’s wedding. From what I understand, the filmmakers, including the director of HBO’s 7 Days in Hell and the two main writers of the Neighbors franchise, stuck close to fact for the movie’s first act, even sending Devine’s Mike Stangle and Efron’s Dave Stangle to The Wendy Williams Show.

Oh, wait – that didn’t happen. Totally does in the movie, though.

It should have happened in real life, right?

Anyway. Hilarity obviously ensues (thanks to Plaza’s vixenish Tatiana, who is like, the embodiment of modern-day deadpan, very much like the actress herself) – and how could it not with a hot summer release date and a game cast that features Sugar Lyn Beard, a rib-busting Canadian little import who beyond-resembles celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, steals scenes with the ease of a Zach Galifianakis or an Isla Fisher, and who earlier this week had a big moment on Comedy Central’s Another Period. In one of, I hope, many deviations from real life, Beard plays the guys’ sister.

So...the funny. It comes from the girls. Surprise, surprise.

I mean, the brothers bring it, of course – but the girls are the instigators, as is their wont, and that’s why Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates works. Because it’s an ensemble.

See, Tatiana and Kendrick’s Alice aren’t exactly the kind of good, wholesome girls Mike and Dave’s family commanded they bring to the wedding in order to stay out of trouble, which the guys never fail to bring to family gatherings. All four are...I hesitate to call them damaged goods....

Got it: They're perfectly imperfect (such a now thing to say).

Mike and Dave are not boys, not yet men; the former’s not as good-looking and he knows it thanks to their father, and the latter still hasn’t settled on a career path (words from dad seem to suggest Dave’s comeliness should have route him). Meanwhile, Alice is in a sad romantic rut after almost getting her happy ending, and Tatiana, programmed to be a badass, has made a habit out of being careless with delicate people.

Add alcohol and you get a combustion: Exactly the opposite of what the brothers were supposed to gift their bride sister.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates concerns itself with more than delivering the laughs that would come from the arrangement that binds this foursome; it also delves, albeit here and there, with the disappointment that comes with it. The guys are not thrilled when they discover the girls were simply using them for a free vacay. Further exploring that malaise would have changed the tone of the movie, but, Efron, especially, fails to sink his teeth into that feeling (instead, bf showcases his accents, to try to make jokes funnier, I guess). It is high time he starts giving himself more credit than that and cut it out with the projects that require his goes shirtless. All of that is hot, but it grows old fast, and it will get old. Then what? Good for Devine, for effectively connecting with the silly and the humanity of his character, and for Kendrick and Plaza, who overcome trashy styling (that hair, Anna!) to own their vulnerabilities and their #boss-ness.

Look, this ain’t Shakespeare, OKRRR. It’s Wedding Crashers: The Call Is Coming from Inside the Party, and that’s just fine. And fun.

My Rating ***

Photo: 20th Century Fox.

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