54. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

I’m not really sure what there is to say about Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.  It’s obviously not some towering achievement in cinema, nor is it attempting to be.  Rather, it’s another in a multitude of R-rated comedies to come along over the last several years.  These are cheap and easy to produce, so they don’t need to gross a whole lot of money (relatively speaking) to make a profit, which is why we see so many of them.  And I’m not really complaining.  These types of movies can be a fun diversion from angst-laden action pieces and kid-friendly animated films.  And that’s essentially what Mike and Dave amounts to.

Loosely based on the true story of the real Mike and Dave Spangler, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates pretty much sums up the premise within the title.  Mike and Dave Spangler (Adam Devine and Zac Efron, respectively), are known for being partiers and ruining their family gatherings.  So, when their sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) is set to get married in Hawaii, she and their parents (Stephen Root and Stephanie Faracy) demand that Mike and Dave bring dates (eventually Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick) to the wedding in an effort to keep them tamed during the festivities.  From there (say it with me), hilarity ensues.

To an extent.  As with so many of these comedies, I rarely laughed out loud but I was plenty amused and entertained throughout the length of the film.  Maybe it helped that the majority of the proceedings take place at Turtle Bay Resort (my favorite place I’ve ever been to) on Oahu but, even without that, I had a good enough time.  I found most of my own laughs coming as a result of quick comments that almost go by unnoticed.  There is a lot of subtle humor in Mike and Dave and it would be easy to miss by zoning out for even a second.  I like being rewarded for paying attention, so that’s where this movie shines, from my perspective.

Regarding the cast, for me personally, Anna Kendrick was the standout.  Playing Alice, her character actually has some complex issues going on and Kendrick delivers a wacky performance that also doesn’t feel too over-the-top.  She’s vastly endearing thanks to the perfect concoction of comedic timing and relatable pathos.  Kendrick won me over in Up in the Air (and apparently, I wasn’t the only one, since she earned both Oscar and Golden Globes nominations for her performance) and I enjoyed seeing a different side of her, here.

That’s not an intentional effort on my part to dismiss the rest of the cast.  Zac Efron plays essentially the same character in every movie he’s in, just to varying degrees, and he does the same here.  He plays that character well, but there’s either some typecasting going on in his career or an unwillingness from him to step out of his comfort zone.  Adam Devine and Aubrey Plaza play the two more exaggerated characters of the primary foursome and, again, they do it well.  Their characters aren’t as inherently likeable as Efron’s or Kendrick’s as they serve as the devils on the shoulders of their better-meaning counterparts.

Though I suspect you won’t hear her name brought up very often in other columns and articles about Mike and Dave, Sugar Lyn Beard deserves a mention as Jeanie.  She gets more screen time than I expected and she makes the most of it, giving a cheeky and funny performance.  Beard is often required to switch gears entirely from one scene to the next and, as difficult as that can be, it mirrors Jeanie’s internal conflict, as she’s torn between her domesticated and wilder sides.  Jeanie is the catalyst for the entire film and Beard plays the part responsibly and appropriately.

As with any comedy – especially raunchy R-rated comedies – funny is subjective.  If you typically like R-rated comedies, you’ll probably like this one.  If not, and maybe you’re a devoted Anna Kendrick fan or you also love movies set in Hawaii, then just be prepared.  I’ve seen raunchier films, but it very much earns its R-rating.  Ultimately, it’s a harmless romp centered around characters who are mostly designed to be laughed at and not with.  It’s a good enough time with a cast who’s clearly having fun, and it even has a surprising element of charm, even if the film otherwise does little to stand out from the pack.

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