Editor’s Notes: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is out in wide theatrical release today, July 8th.
The American Dream is dead. Long live the American Dream. The old school version of the American died sometime around the turn of the millennium if not sooner. It died when the basic tenets of the American Dream – more comforting myth than a reflection of reality – of ever upward social progress driven by hard work and education (a meritocracy in other words) gave way to the pursuit of wealth, status, and celebrity through whatever means necessary. Sometimes those means might involve a Craigslist ad that goes viral, an appearance on national TV, a book, and movie deal: Nothing of actual value except to Mike and Dave Stangle, the creators of the aforementioned Craigslist ad. They won momentary notoriety and the engorged personal bank accounts that often follow. And now there’s a “film,” Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, loosely “inspired by” their antics and book, to bring them additional monetary gain, all of as unearned. But we come here not to take the Stangle brothers down, but to bury Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
Outside of matching or out-matching Mike and Dave’s boorish, immature behavior, they’re exactly who we think they are.
The heavily fictionalized Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave Stangle (Zac Efron) we meet in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates aren’t just bro-dudes or dude-bros; they’re actually biological brothers who practically do everything together. They live together. They work together. And there’s a good chance they sleep together (non-romantically, of course). They also party together, often to the detriment of everyone around them, including their long-suffering family. Exhausted by their shenanigans, not to mention the property damage they tend to cause wherever they go, their father and mother, Burt (Stephen Root) and Rosie (Stephanie Faracy), slap them (virtually, not literally) with an ultimatum: bring “nice girls” to their younger sister Jeanie’s upcoming wedding in Hawaii or don’t come at all. So far, the everything we learn about what made the real Mike and Dave become Internet famous jibes with reality, more or less, but this iteration of Mike and Dave are more than likely a lot funnier – “funny” being a subjective perception – than their real-world counterparts.
But the premise implied in the title has to go somewhere and that’s where Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Audrey Plaza) come in. They love to party irresponsibly just as much as Mike and Dave. They might be downwardly mobile twenty-somethings working as cocktail waitresses, but that doesn’t stop them from showing up to work hung over – or even worse – getting drunk on the job. Alice, however, has her reasons (or rather reasons, we’re talking about a reductive comedy, after all): Dumped at the alter by the one-time “love of her life,” she’s bitter, cynical, and just slightly unbalanced emotionally and socially. Tatiana sees her pain and makes it only worse, encouraging Alice’s “bad” behavior to ensure a co-dependent relationship. That’s as far as Alice and Tatiana go depth wise as characters. Outside of matching or out-matching Mike and Dave’s boorish, immature behavior, they’re exactly who we think they are. Likewise on whatever character arc they get through Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ seemingly interminable running time.
. . . makes not just for an uncomfortable moviegoing experience, but an offensive one as well.
Eventually, Mike and Dave hook up with Alice and Tatiana and go off to Hawaii to ruin Jeanie’s upcoming nuptials. Before then, we’re treated – “treated” used loosely here – to Mike and Dave stumbling into the idea of putting up the Craigslist ad that made them Internet famous and got them that sweet book deal, a parade of walking, talking, and sitting female stereotypes they interview as potential wedding dates, and their meet-up with Alice and Tatiana. Mike and Dave think they’re in control, but they’re not. Alice and Tatiana orchestrate a “meet cute” that involves Tatiana throwing herself in front of a passing car and Mike saving her from not-so-imminent death. For the remainder of Mike and Dave’s Wedding Dates, Mike and Dave try to keep it together, failing spectacularly, while Alice and Tatiana pretend to be the good girls Mike and Dave wanted. They also fail.
The jokes and gags run the gamut from state pop-culture humor to trite pop-culture humor (any film that cites Scarface’s overused “Say hello to my little friend” line should be permanently barred from theatrical or VOD release), with the usual stops and starts for physical comedy, including at least two bits involving the brothers walking in or seeing their younger in a compromising, sexualized position. The rest is stock cringe-inducing humiliation of the characters we’ve come to know and (not) love. Humiliating characters for the entertainment of moviegoers isn’t new, of course, but humiliating them in the most obvious and crudest of ways, humiliating them with a nasty, repugnant edge, however, makes not just for an uncomfortable moviegoing experience, but an offensive one as well. Almost as badly, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates misuses a talented cast. Even Kendrick, with all the dramatic and comedic talents she possesses, ultimately can’t make Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates anything more than a reminder that she deserves better. Then again, so do we.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates misuses a talented cast. Even Kendrick, with all the dramatic and comedic talents she possesses, ultimately can’t make Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates anything more than a reminder that she deserves better. Then again, so do we.