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Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) Movie Review: “What’s in the Box?

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There are a few variations of stupid movies. There’s a stupid that from the very moment it’s switched on you have an uncontrollable impulse to launch yourself out the nearest window. The next stupid is bearable until a tipping point and then you want to punch yourself in the face for having been lured into their tricks. Finally, there’s a brand of exaggerated ridiculousness (that despite any basis in fact whatsoever as this does) that gives you permission to feel gleefully juvenile. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates won me over with one scene (and hell I even think it’s in the trailer).

Mike (Zac Efron) and Dave Stangle (Adam Devine) are forced by their parents to take “nice girls” to their Sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) destination wedding. The pair of dullards decides to go to Craigslist online. When their ad goes viral, Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) convinces her best friend Alice (Anna Kendrick) that they need to pretend to be nice girls to get a much needed Hawaii holiday.

Director Jake Szymanski creates Loony Tunes madness in the film. He changes the rules to make certain characters impervious to the injuries that their pratfalls would cause; and others (like Jeanie) cop cartoonish maiming. That intentional imbalance echoes throughout the film, especially in the different comedic pairs (Efron/Devine and Kendrick/Plaza). Szymanski and screen writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, take pleasure in establishing “ground rules” so-to-speak for each pair. One being wild, the other being a little more conservative (Laurel and Hardy or Martin and Lewis or Fry and Laurie) and then targeting the right moments to flip the script on the audience.

Bravo to Cohen and O’Brien they conceived of “the scene” of the film (which I would have to guess is a direct homage to the final scene of SE7EN). Dave (Devine) is ranting about the horrors of walking in on their sister’s massage and wonders if he’s going to walk in on their mother giving their dad a “push-pop.” Mike (Efron) does his best “what’s in the box” with “what’s a push pop.” Yes, it may be utterly ridiculous but man, was it one of quite a few moments that Mike and Dave need Wedding Dates had me absolutely howling.

Adam Devine’s Mike is the fuel for the movie’s lunacy. He’s always got some hair-brained scheme that his too nice to ever say no brother, Zac Efron’s Dave, is more than happy to participate. Devine has the impeccable timing after earning his chops in ensemble comedy. Efron’s natural charisma may fool you, but he’s growing into the best “himbo” that this reviewer has ever seen.

Aubrey Plaza’s Tatiana is another one in the string of her recent characters that she’s stuck playing second fiddle or coercing men in the film with promises to play with their fiddle. The refreshing difference with Tatiana though is that her constant partying is her way of distracting her best friend from grief. Anna Kendrick’s Alice, was left at the altar, and since has been on a partying gap year with Tatiana that’s suitably wild. Kendrick is at her best when she gets moments to reveal that she’s far more culpable in their craziness than is initially apparent. Kumail Nanjiani ‘s Keanu just waltzes in and steals the entire movie giving a full service massage that lands somewhere between erotic and cirque du soleil acrobatic. Sugar Lyn Beard’s commitment to Jeanie’s humiliation is key to the movie’s success.

Thanks to enthusiastically sincere performances, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates has a perverse charm. It gives you the same feeling that you had when get nostalgic about finding your older siblings porn magazine stash.

Score: 3.5/5

Blake Howard – follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman

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