In the 90s, no one could have predicted that “America’s Funniest Home Videos” would have a larger impact on the future of comedy than Jerry Seinfeld or Chris Rock. Yet, at least once a month, a raunchy comedy is released, for which the centerpiece is a collision between the human body’s daintier portions and an alternating second party. Here, it’s the face and an ATV.
“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” and Mike and Dave get wedding dates. With that out of the way, the setting shifts to Hawaii, where the wedding in question is set to take place. At this point, the plot melts away and the characters are sectioned off into rotating pairs, each its own unique recipe for disaster. It all comes to a familiar head: characters vocalize self-realizations, a musical number occurs and, of course, somebody unknowingly releases sensitive information into a loud speaker. To my surprise, this is based on a true story. To that, I say “what story?” Two guys took two girls to a wedding? I went to Kroger yesterday. Where’s my movie?
As I watched it all unfold, I found the characters to be phony and the narrative comparable to a headless chicken in traffic: spastic, but inevitable. Then I thought back to my favorite comedies, and many are not particularly honest or profound, but they are funny—so funny, that ideas of logic are rendered void, and everything is to serve the Laugh and the Laugh only. As those films prove, the Laugh is a forgiving deity, able to wipe away the sins of sloppy storytelling. This is all a long-winded way of saying “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is not funny. But, boy, does it try.
Adam Devine, who plays Mike or Dave—I can’t remember which and it doesn’t seem to really matter—strikes me as the student in clown college who went to all the after-school tutorials, participated in class and studied all night for exams, only to end up with a C-plus. He tries desperately to salvage unfunny scenes by scrunching his face into a ball and raising his voice a register or two, but to no avail. Instead, he comes across as a tired child in need of attention. Zac Efron, in his third R-rated comedy of the year, deserves some recognition for the immense variety of inflections he puts on the word, “what,” which is his go-to reaction. Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick play the titular dates, and are essentially the same two characters as Mike and Dave.
The film’s biggest mistake—in this, it’s not alone—is in thinking that watching other people have fun is a sustainable resource for entertainment. I’d liken watching “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” to watching a friend play video games, but it’s more like watching a friend watch a friend play video games.
1 out of 5 stars