“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is the comedic equivalent of low-hanging fruit. It’s an obnoxious Judd Apatow knockoff missing the heart and sweetness to complement the raunchy and ribald. The title characters — based on the 2013 exploits of real-life bros — don’t need dates, they need a better movie.
Instead, first-time feature (it shows) director Jake Szymanski and “Neighbors” writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien squander a good premise by turning their lead characters into a pair of one-dimensional unlikable and obnoxious clowns.
After an amusing video stroll down memory lane, recalling Mike and Dave’s past exploits (grandpa’s heart attack) at family functions, Mom (Stephanie Faracy) and Dad (Stephen Root), ask the question: “When are you two going to grow up?” Then issue the directive: You cannot show up stag and hit on girls and ruin your sister’s wedding. So, what do tequila sellers and Stangle family morons Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) do? Naturally, they post a Craigslist ad seeking respectable girls to accompany them to Sis’ nuptials in Hawaii. The ad goes viral, even landing them on Wendy Williams’ talk show.
Cue the montage of weirdo-women. Eventually, skanks-in-disguise, Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), win the boys’ hearts so they can nab the free trip to Hawaii. There, the girls turn out to be worse than the guys. Shenanigans involving drugs, booze and sex ensue.
Nothing you haven’t seen a million times before. And, do you think the wedding gets ruined anyway?
For Efron, this is the third limp comedy in a row after “Neighbors 2” and “Dirty Grandpa.” I’m not ready to give up on him yet. He’s got nothing to work with in “Mike and Dave.” Ditto for Kendrick, an Oscar-nominee for “Up in the Air,” who’s really slumming here — covering her bare breasts with a horse’s tail while she’s rolling on Ecstasy. She plays Efron’s emotionally damaged date and the most mild of the film’s scenery chewers.
The real doozies are DeVine and Plaza, both muttering stupid line after stupid line to the point it borders on embarrassment. A little DeVine and Plaza goes a long way. I cringed every time they came on screen spewing their endless improvs. Devine, who’s so terrific on TV’s “Modern Family,” never comes up for air. Just look at the veins popping on his forehead. And, rookie director Szymanski doesn’t dare reign him in. Ditto for Plaza, who, like Kendrick, is a talented actress, as she proved in the delightful “Safety Not Guaranteed.” She’s above playing a trashy party girl — again, as she did in “Dirty Grandpa.” Cash the paychecks quickly, girls.
Alice Wetterlund causes trouble as the butch Cousin Terry, Mike’s nemesis who can’t keep her hands off Tatiana. The only character with a semblance of life is the bride played with looney appeal by petite Sugar Lyn Beard. But even she has a tendency to go overboard. In a massage scene at the hands — and rear-end — of Kumail Nanjiani’s Keanu, her idea of sensual is opposite of his, and it’s quite funny, until Szymanski lets it run too long.
From the lackluster acting to the writing (was there even a script?) to the (non)directing, it all makes for a rather miserable experience. Even Hawaii looks uninviting. It’s that bad. Give this date with Mike and Dave a quick kiss goodbye.
— Dana Barbuto may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @dbarbuto_Ledger.
“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”
Cast: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Sam Richardson, Alice Wetterlund, Stephen Root, Sugar Lyn Beard.
(R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity)