FILM REVIEW – MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES. With Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root. Written by Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O’Brien. Directed by Jake Szymanski. Rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity. 98 minutes.
Zac Efron, it’s time to fire your agent. This year you’ve appeared in “Dirty Grandpa,” “Neighbors 2,” and now MIKE AND DAVE NEEDS WEDDING DATES. It seems the only question your agent asks before committing you to the part is, “Does he get to take his shirt off?”
In this latest installment of “Pecs on Parade,” Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Efron) are two brothers whose antics make them the life of any party–if it doesn’t take the whole party down with them. Now that their little sister Jeannie (Sugar Lyn Beard) is getting married, their father (Stephen Root) wants to make sure the boys aren’t up to their usual antics, like hitting on all the bridesmaids. So they are ordered to have dates for the event, which happens to be in Hawaii.
Such is the airquotes-wit of this bottom of the barrel airquotes-comedy that they advertise for their dates. Enter Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), their female counterparts. Alice, recently jilted at the altar for reasons never explained, is paired with the sensitive artist Dave, while the manipulative tease Tatiana gets to torture Mike.
But wait, the airquotes-fun is only beginning. There’s the nude massage that Jeannie gets, the bisexual cousin (Alice Wetterlund) who comes on to Tatiana in the sauna, the drug scene where Alice and Jeannie strip down and set the horses free, and it goes on. The only reason that this isn’t lower than “Dirty Grandpa” is that you don’t have the spectacle of a once-great actor like Robert DeNiro debasing himself.
Given what passes for comedy in the modern era–where movies like “The Hangover” and “Bridesmaids” are box office hits–it’s impossible to guess how audiences will react to this mess. Those wanting to see Efron without his shirt will not be disappointed, although, to quote another movie, most of the audience can probably draw it from memory by now. Anna Kendrick, the most accomplished of the four leads, was clearly here just for the paycheck. Let’s hope better roles (such as “Into The Woods” and “Pitch Perfect”) come her way.
Devine is not without comic talent but needs much better material than this if he’s going to make his mark. As for Aubrey Plaza, perhaps best known for her work as April Ludgate on TV’s “Parks and Recreation,” she also needs a new agent (and if it’s the same one as Efron’s, she can’t make the change soon enough). While she dodged “Neighbors 2,” she joined Efron in this and “Dirty Grandpa.” Unless she wants to make a career of skanky roles, it’s time she started reading the scripts before agreeing to them.
In short, this is the sort of movie that could play at a fraternity keg night and be largely ignored except for the real sleazy parts. Or “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” could become a big hit. In a year where a Presidential candidate brags about his genital size in the midst of a debate it’s quite possible we have not yet hit bottom.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His most recent book is Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.