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"MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES"
(2016) (Zac Efron, Adam Devine) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: Two brothers get more than they bargained for when they bring two young women to their sister's wedding as their dates.
PLOT:
Dave (ZAC EFRON) and Mike (ADAM DEVINE) are adult brothers who run a wholesale liquor business together. With their younger sister, Jeanie (SUGAR LYN BEARD), about to marry her boyfriend, Eric (SAM RICHARDSON), their father, Burt (STEPHEN ROOT), realizes he needs to have a blunt talk with the two. After all, they're known for making scenes at others' weddings and ruining those special days by their wild, womanizing behavior. In short, he tells them they must bring dates to Jeanie and Eric's wedding in Hawaii. Accordingly, Dave posts an online ad to find such women for an all-expense paid trip with them to the nuptials, and that query goes viral, soon landing the two on the Wendy Williams Show on TV.

Their appearance catches the attention of scuzzy, party-hearty best friends Alice (ANNA KENDRICK) and Tatiana (AUBREY PLAZA) who plot to pass themselves off as clean-cut and respectful young women -- the former pretending to be a hedge fund manager and the latter a teacher -- who will convince the brothers they're the ones to be their dates. With an added bit of deception, their ploy works and soon they're in Hawaii with Burt and his wife, other family members -- including the siblings' bisexual cousin, Terry (ALICE WETTERLUND), who always clashes with Mike -- those in the wedding party and friends.

With the big day approaching, Mike and Dave believe that not only have they met their dad's demands, but have also landed two winners they could possibly bed. But as the days play out before the wedding, the brothers come to realize the young women might be wilder than they are.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
As I've been married for 26 years (with two more before that when we were dating) and was involved in a multi-year relationship before that, I've never been in need of any sort of dating "help" in more than three decades. And before then, the only such assistance would be someone setting you up on a blind date as there was no Internet back in the day.

Nowadays, of course, there are dating websites galore, with plenty touting they're the best and deliver "results" like no other. Back in 2013, two brothers from Albany, New York -- Mike Stangle and Dave Stangle -- took a somewhat more primitive approach than filling out page after page of personality info to get the dating algorithms cooking. They placed an ad looking for dates for their cousin's wedding on Craigslist, the online equivalent of the old classified ads back in the newspaper era.

Their approach got them the Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame as they appeared on various TV shows to talk about themselves and their unique dating approach. They reportedly ultimately decided to take some young women they knew since childhood, got married, had kids and lived a life of obscurity ever since, with few outside of friends and family remembering what they did, waiting for the grandkids to arrive to tell them how Pop-Pop and Maw-Maw met back in the old days.

Okay, I'll admit I made up almost all of that except for them deciding to take the childhood friends to the nuptials. I have no idea what happened after that, but I'm guessing it probably wasn't what transpires in the movie based on the dating approach, "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates."

In the film -- directed by Jake Szymanski from a screenplay by Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O'Brien -- Zac Efron and Adam Devine play the Stangle siblings who apparently went to the Festrunk Brothers School of Behaving as they're apparently two wild and crazy guys. Yet rather than wear plaid pants and talking in exaggerated Czech accents, the guys have a reputation for ruining others' parties. So much so that their father (Stephen Root) has laid down the law: In order to attend the upcoming nuptials between their sister (Sugar Lyn Beard) and her fiancÚ (Sam Richardson), they must bring respectful dates and behave themselves.

And thus the ad runs, the response is good (thanks to an all-expense paid vacation to Hawaii), and the brothers end up on the Wendy Williams show. That draws the attention of two party-hearty, crude and unkempt young women (Anna Kendricks and Aubrey Plaza) who are certain they could clean up their act long enough to get in on this deal.

They do, the flights are booked, and the story settles in for the central plot as the guys realize the women can out-party them and then some. Following in the footsteps of the recent trend of comedies featuring women who prove they can get down and dirty just as easily as the fellas, the film then features one comedy bit after another proving just that.

Is it derivative of prior cinematic offerings covering the same sort of ground? Absolutely. Is it decidedly crude and vulgar rather than smart and sophisticated? No doubt. Is it fairly funny if you don't mind such hard R-rated material? Yes, but it probably could have been better with a smarter and more creative approach to what's a mostly predictable storyline.

That includes the brothers mostly being in reaction mode after their initial ploy, at least until a quick montage in the third act where they try to save their cousin's, natch, ruined wedding. Some touchy-feely, Judd Apatow-inspired moments worm their way into the proceedings, and the wild girls turn out to have vulnerabilities, with the two pairings then headed for actually becoming real couples.

Any sort of twists or at least turns could have been applied to some or all of that, but the creative team doesn't really take any wild chances with the material despite working in the realm of outrageous comedy. Yes, there are laughs to be had, big and small, but this offering could have likely been even funnier and certainly smarter with some extra script work.

Thankfully, the cast is game for what's been given to them and they make most of it work to one degree or another. When all is said and done, "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates" won't likely end up as the perfect or best search result for a moviegoer wanting to find a great comedy. But it's entertaining and diverting enough for those looking for a decently dumb time at the movies. The pic rates as a 5.5 out of 10.




Reviewed June 30, 2016 / Posted July 7, 2016


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