Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Mike (Devine) and Dave (Efron) are brothers who love being the life of the party and most of their family & friends are fine with this…until they ruin every single family event when their elaborate plans goes awry. Their father (Root) gives them an ultimatum: find dates for their sister’s wedding in Hawaii or don’t bother showing up. As they make the rounds in mass media, they catch the attention of Alice (Kendrick) & Tatiana (Plaza), who just have to meet them.
Throughout the entire movie, there is feeling in the air that Mike and Dave isn’t quite all there. A big part of the problem is that screenwriters Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O’Brien (Neighbors) have created all these supporting characters that should be perfect comic foils for the four leads, but are never fully utilized. For example, there’s the party-pooper maid of honor, whose entire goal in life is to make this wedding go off without a hitch while making the festivities about as fun as a dentist visit. She is the stereotypical character set up for ridicule but (SPOILER ALERT) nothing ever happens to her more than a passing dig.
This character is emblematic of the dilemma of modern comedies: they record about twice as much material as they need and end up only using the ninety-ish minutes that work best. From a comedy standpoint, this process works in keeping the movie tight and (usually) consistently funny. But Mike and Dave isn’t a comedy sketch show, it’s a full-length motion picture. As a motion picture, it barely works. There are just too many little ideas jutting out like split ends that need clipped or completed. And here, there are so many that first-time feature director Jake Szymanski is barely able to keep the movie afloat.
Thankfully, all four characters and three of the four main relationships are strong. Mike and Dave have a true-to-life brotherly relationship that I’ve witnessed between real siblings and Devine & Efron easily showcase a perfect balance of brotherly love and aggressive sibling rivalry. Alice and Tatiana have this camaraderie about them that gives the viewer the impression that they have been BFFs for years & have been through worse times together. Add that to the fact that they are played by two actresses as talented & charming as Kendrick and Plaza, this relationship is extra special.
On the romantic side of things, Mike and Tatiana don’t work as well as they should. There is sexual tension in the air around them but it’s too much and fogs up the potential chemistry the two of them may have. Luckily for them (and us), their counterparts pick up the slack. Dave and Alice hit it off right away and we slowly learn why. They are two broken souls looking for the chance to get life going again. As portrayed by Efron and Kendrick, these two characters are more than just pretty faces and perfect beach bodies.
The four central characters are not just the soul of Mike and Dave; they’re also the full functioning body parts. Every member of the supporting cast is a mixed bag of disfigured fingers or broken teeth that can’t complete the movie. There’s just not enough consistent humor involving them to get the movie into that upper echelon of modern comedies. The chemistry of the leads and the sweetness of their relationships make up for the shortcomings. In the end, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a poor man’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And that’s just fine.