There’s a difference between being self-aware and being self-involved – the former usually has more sense than the latter. For instance, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is aware of its buffoonery, but neglects to be involved in its own idiocy. There’s still a brain behind the immaturity displayed by Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron).
The comedy follows a typical treatment of matrimony in film. We see the happy couple – Mike and Dave’s sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) and her beau Eric (Sam Richardson) – and slowly watch their preparation crumble due to misunderstandings and stress. Most of this disarray is created by the competitive brotherly duo, who already have a track record of ruining celebratory functions. However, the boys bring dates to Jeanie’s wedding (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick), and unbeknownst to them, the girls match their unconventional behaviour.
By being self-involved, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates would’ve congratulated the boys on being unintentional renegades. In this case, a message of “just be yourself” is very dangerous even if the context is purely silly escapism. Instead, the script (written by Neighbors’ Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien) gives Mike and Dave moments of reflection as they realize the gravity of their own stupidity – likewise for their deceiving dates. Efron and Devine know how to play this specific brand of meathead comedy, but they also know how to win the audience’s affection. Plaza and Kendrick, on the other hand, have these same moments too, but it’s mischievous fun watching their trickster ways.
Most of the laughs in Jake Szymanski’s comedy develop during outrageous exchanges between the four leads as they try and outsmart each other. These actors also benefit from having previous experience with each other (Efron and Plaza in Dirty Grandpa, Devine and Kendrick in the Pitch Perfect franchise, Plaza and Kendrick in various comedies). They know of this secret weapon, and they use this knowledge to spin hilarious comedic yarns.
Many will compare Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates to 2005’s hit Wedding Crashers for obvious reasons (raunchy humour, dysfunctional family members, the entire wedding set-up). To me, this film has the upper hand over that alleged comedy classic which, after a decade, I still find longwinded and overrated. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, easily, has more tricks up its sleeve.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie