The movie poster for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates promises the movie is full of "hot messes," and boy does it deliver as advertised. Mike and Dave is full of hot air, with some real laughs but a pretty thin premise. It really wants to be the new Wedding Crashers, but ultimately feels too calculated and even references the film in a lengthy scene before Zac Efron announces something along the lines of, "Wedding Crashers is just a movie!" This is sloppy seconds, with some good, yet sparse, jokes and too-frequent pop culture references.
Mike and Dave is loosely based on a true story about the Stangle brothers of the same name. Back in 2013, the two posted an ad on Craigslist in an effort to find "nice girl" dates for their sister's wedding in upstate New York, to quell their wild reputations at family events. Their ad, which was accompanied by a mock-up of their faces superimposed on centaurs in front of the text of the U.S. constitution, quickly went viral and landed the two a book deal, and now a movie based on their presumed sexploits. Though, naturally, for the movie version, the wedding in question moved to Hawaii instead.
On-screen, Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron)'s ad leads them to a spot on The Wendy Williams Show, where it catches the eye of definitely-not-nice-girls Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick). The two women devise a plan to transform their images from up-for-anything cocktail waitresses to girls next door to secure the trip, and it works. Yet, we soon learn their vacation is also to help Alice move on after her fiancé leaves her at the altar for reasons never explained, likely because she was so "bad," and loves to drink, smoke weed, watch porn and dance on tables when a Rihanna song plays. So, will she be able to hide her damage and have the raucous trip she and her best friend are hoping for? Predictably, yes.
Aubrey steals the movie with her unwavering confidence, improv prowess and inspired beachwear, but since she does not have a comedy equal, the movie never quite clicks. Adam Devine’s one-note shrieky schtick wears increasingly thin as the scenes play out, and while Anna and Zac have good romantic chemistry, the film fails to successfully satisfy or wrap up that storyline. Beyond that, a hilarious massage scene with Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani feels like it’s a tonal transplant from a different movie, for a spiritual sequel to director Jake Szymanski’s tennis mockumentary 7 Days in Hell.
So, who’s to blame for this so-so mess? Zac Efron’s agent. Written by the same Neighbours and Neighbours 2 crew that helped rebrand him into a shirtless comedy star with lots of heart, this movie treats him more like a We Are Your Friends or Dirty Grandpa gimmick. Any goodwill he gained from these hysterical turns has been soured by these subpar efforts at cash-in stardom. He appears exhausted on-screen - even he’s tired of his current jam. Will he be just as burnt out in Baywatch?
The movie definitely seems like a fun romp on paper, but its mechanics are all too visible. The reason Mike and Dave’s original ad went viral was because it was an unexpected, candid and genuine surprise in the Craigslist universe, but the movie can’t deliver the same power.
Attached - Zac, Adam, Aubrey, and Anna at the Los Angeles premiere of Mike and Dave at the end of June.