Here’s the latest “shock and awe” R-rated comedy, this time taking a real life event and exaggerating nearly everything about it in order to make for a decent movie. Was this movie able to exceed expectations?
The two Stangle brothers (Zac Efron and Adam Devine) are known for causing chaos at family parties, so when their younger sister (Sugar Lyn Beard) gets married, they must choose two nice and upstanding girls to bring to the wedding. They put a CraigsList ad in order to recruit some interest and eventually get the attention of two crazy friends (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza). These two crazy girls must put on a “nice girl” facade in order to get a free trip to Hawaii for this wedding. As an FYI, the real story is really just two brothers putting an ad on Craigslist. They took two friends they already knew to a relatively local wedding, so it’s not as exciting as this movie makes it out to be.
We also have their parents (Stephen Root and Stephanie Faracy), the husband-to-be (Sam Richardson), a rival cousin of the Stangles (Alice Wetterlund), and Kumail Nanjiani as an exuberant masseuse.
The reason most people will head to see this movie is because they want to laugh. And will that happen? Yes. A lot. This movie is funny, undoubtedly, but it’s very much in your face humor. Fast and loud. Most of the laughs come from Adam Devine, who takes what made his character in Pitch Perfect work and amplifies that 10 times. He is a powerhouse for sure but I compare it to Kevin Hart. He’s hilarious but his range is absolutely zero. He’s funny but if you find you don’t enjoy Adam Devine, there’s nothing new or surprising here.
I know this “What works?” section will appear short but the fact that the movie is so hilarious counts for a lot. But it doesn’t count for everything.
While the duo of Devine and Efron work fine, the pairing of Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza doesn’t work nearly as well. Plaza is really the lead character here, dragging Kendrick’s along for the ride. They attempt to make her character outrageous and wild yet it doesn’t really work. The whole movie is based on them trying to be nice girls but both of these girls are blatantly horrible the entire movie, so it’s really unbelievable. I could see why Anna Kendrick took this role, as a chance to play against type, but the movie struggles with what role they want her to play. She’s introduced as the wilder of the two girls, belligerent and dancing on tables, always carrying various drugs with her, yet the movie tries to convince us that she’s the sweet one, so you spend the whole movie struggling to figure her out. It doesn’t feel like it’s intended to be that way though, it just feels like it’s full of inconsistencies.
What I consider to be successful (and well-remembered) comedies still need heart. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Wedding Crashers, Zoolander. They all still had an emotional core, which witty writing would turn into a comedic adventure. There isn’t much heart here, though they tried. The moments that are meant to be heartfelt are awkward and often self-referential (ie, “That was a really sweet moment!” right after something meant to be touching). The movie doesn’t capitalize on these moments and instead feels inauthentic.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is undoubtedly funny. The jokes though are extremely superficial and crude, meaning that the movie never really gets any depth. Instead of allowing for a quiet moment to add some heart, the movie instead continues to barrage you. You’ll laugh, likely a lot, but when you look back at the movie, you’ll find it’s relatively hollow and forgettable. For a comedy, that’s sometimes okay. You might really enjoy this movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good movie.