‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ is Hilarious Joy

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CHICAGO – In these difficult times, we flat out need a belly laugh. The timing of “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” couldn’t be better, because this group of comic actors and this movie provides a respite of hilarious joy. By simply exploiting the truth of the based-on-a-real-story premise, “Mike and Dave” is the type of farce that anybody can relate to, and laugh at gratefully.

The genius is in the likeliness of the scenario. Like “Bridesmaids” before it, everyone can relate to the fake wedding piety, that is an absolute recipe for disaster in the right (or wrong) circumstance. The boys in the story who need dates are familiar, the gruff-but-benign Dad is everybody’s Dad at some point in life and the two party girls looking for a free vacation are all of us. Everything becomes a recognizable tipping point that is taken to a comic extreme. It comes down to making things more wrong by trying to make them right.

Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are free-partying, late twentysomething New York City boys whose business is liquor sales. They have a penchant for destroying family gatherings with their free spirit disregard for propriety. When their sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) announces her engagement, the boys are told in no uncertain terms by their father Burt (Stephen Root) that they must have decent wedding dates.

Mike and Dave
Poster image from ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox Films

Both are between relationships, so they do what anyone would do when trying to get two dates to take on a destination wedding in Hawaii…they put an ad in Craigslist. It goes viral, they get on TV, and two hard-partying lovelies named Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) see an opportunity. They dress themselves up, put on fake nice-girl personas and become the wedding dates. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything and anything, and the film milks all the really great comedy moments in such a situation. By putting all the context on the truth – boys want to please Dad and girls want a vacation – the randomness of the pairings create great laughs and a little heart. Exaggerated truth is always funnier than making up gags. What we recognize in ourselves is always good for a guffaw.

The cast is stellar, including – dare I say it – the UNDERRATED Zac Efron. He seems to have come into his own, and is unafraid to play for laughs his perceived movie star persona (shirtlessness and all). He and Adam Devine play off each other exactly as brothers should, and generate humor through the relationship chemistry rather than their unlikeliness as genetic brothers. Their scenes with the under-the-radar comic character actor Stephen Root (as Dad) are nearly perfect, and Root does a slow burn worthy of Jackie Gleason.

And we cannot forget the ladies. Anna Kendrick is having a ball playing a slightly skewered party girl, whose tragic flaw was being left at the altar (in this age of video, she keeps the ceremony disaster on her phone). Her reaction to the wedding event itself is hilarious on its own, and is enhanced by her cynical partner-in-free-vacation, Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”). The dating foursome work like instruments in an orchestra, each bringing their own tone to the comic symphony.

Mike and Dave
Adam Devine, Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza of ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox Films

The only tiny flaw (and it’s not glaringly apparent) is the lack of quid-pro-quo when it comes to the nudity. The females are gleefully on display at some point, save for Anna Kendrick’s contractually obligated coverage, and the boys aren’t, for the most part. Zac Efron takes his shirt off, naturally, and Kumail Nanjiani does a very funny masseuse nude scene, but there wasn’t any equivalence to the baring of the gals. Adam Devine has a love-making scene with his shirt on, like a fat porn star from the 1970s.

But even all that is funny. The news this week has been terrible, so treat yourself to a couple of goofs searching for a potential post-modern happiness with internet dates. And don’t forget to raise a glass to the “Dad,” because he’s the moral arbiter over all of the wackiness. This is what a comedy should be.

CLICK HERE for the HollywoodChicago.com interview with Adam Devine and director Jake Szymanski of “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.”

“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” opens everywhere on July 8th. Featuring Adam Devine, Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root, Alice Wetterlund, Kumail Nanjiani, Jake Johnson, Sam Richardson and Sugar Lyn Beard. Written by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien. Directed by Jake Szymanski. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2016 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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