The men might have their names in the title but it’s the women who steal the show.
It you’re in need of an antidote to disappointing blockbusters (see Suicide Squad), you’re not a big fan of science fiction (see Star Trek Beyond) and for whatever reason can’t stand kids films (erm maybe you’re heartless…see Finding Dory, I guess..?) then this film just about does the job. If you like your frat pack movies and love watching a bit of raunch then you’re going to love this.
Mike (Adam Devine) and his younger brother Dave (Zac Efron) are renowned for their behaviour at family events. They think they get the party started, their family think they end all the parties with reckless and dangerous behaviour after getting each other relied up. Their sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) is about to get married to Eric (Sam Richardson) so the family issue the brothers an ultimatum to prevent them from running their big day – if they want to attend they must bring wedding dates. They post an ad on Craigslist – offering an all expenses trip to Hawaii for two ‘nice girls’ in return for accompanying them as their wedding dates. The ad goes viral, with the brothers even going on tv to discuss their search. That when definitely not ‘nice girls’ Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick) find out about the search, deciding to pose as ‘nice girls’ they end up accompanying Mike and Dave to the wedding. The boys quickly discover their newfound companions are far wilder than expected.
This film is not the greatest comedy to come out of this millennium. In fact once this summer finishes I doubt it will ever be remembered. And yet, for right now, it more than serves its purpose of a summer comedy. It easily passes the six laugh test and most of the jokes are hits rather than misses. And even with the misses the jokes come so frequently the miss is quickly remedied. The standout joke, which was so throwaway you might even miss it, has to be when Tatiana is talking about one experience when she was so high she read a shampoo bottle for 13 hours. The delivery and the punchline itself caused me to giggle myself silly, so much so I nearly had tears of laughter.
The story rarely strays from an unexpected path and is at times rather predictable – though this is not a huge problem considering how entertaining it ends up being. Based ‘sort of’ on a true story (one which I fully intend to investigate further) it’s great fun to watch the situation escalate with a series of raucous situations. The film is reliant, almost overly, on it’s cast to provide the personality and charm of the characters. Yet, rather pleasingly, it’s something all of the cast succeed at.
We’ll go in order of introduction. Mike, played by Devine in his first leading man role, does well. He brings the oddball charm he’s most known for providing in both Pitch Perfect movies (here’s my review of the sequel ) and tv series Modern Family whilst going to even more extreme lengths. Whether it’s the fact he shares most of his screen time with old pro Efron (old pro aged 28- ha!) it occasionally comes across that he is trying to too-hard leading his character to be gratingly over-the-top. On the whole, however, he provides many laughs. Best moment: his meltdown over his behaviour.
Then there’s Dave. Efron plays the role with ease, providing a nice and easy comic groove he has been displaying in recent years. His character here is far more likeable than his character in Bad Neighbours 2 and plays the more rational of the two brothers very well. At times it does feel like he’s coasting on his admittedly innate charm and yet then brings it out with some excellent delivery. Best moment: his relationship with Alice.
The film’s most valued player has to be Aubrey Plaza. She plays Tatiania to deadpan perfection – think April from Parks & Rec but wilder and raunchier. She easily out-grosses and out-does the boys. Her adept skill at manipulating the boys and concealing their boozy and stoned behaviours provides much hilarity. Best moment: the aforementioned shampoo gag.
The big surprise from the four had to be Anna Kendrick as Alice. Kendrick USP tends to be character who are clever, deadpan and kick-ass with a bit of goofiness. Here she is more than a bit ditzy, a bit dim and completely goofy. Normally she seems really with it and together, here she’s a total loose cannon. It really works, bringing a sweetness and sincerity that balances well with Plaza’s powers of evisceration. Best moment: her flashbacks of her not-quite wedding.
It’s down to the chemistry and in-syncness of the four leads that allow this film to work so well. It’s crude, rather rude, not massively memorable and yet funny enough to fill in 100 minutes running time. If the heatwave we are promised in the upcoming weeks does actually arrive this film is a great excuse to hide in an air conditioned cinema!
‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ is in UK cinema now.