I’m still amazed that Zac Efron has become one of Hollywood’s leading comedy actors. It’s gotten to the point where his name automatically lends credence to a film’s ability to make you laugh. Throw in a couple of more conventional comedians like Adam Devine and Aubrey Plaza, as well as another multi-talented performer such as Anna Kendrick, and you have a recipe for hilarity. And as fate would have it, these exact four have joined forces in Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates, the latest flick from the writers of the Neighbors duology.
Mike & Dave is the story of two brothers with a long history of ruining family gatherings with their shenanigans. Their family is sick of it, so Mike (Devine) and Dave (Efron) are given an ultimatum: they must bring nice, respectable dates to their younger sister’s upcoming wedding in Hawaii. Enter Alice (Kendrick) and Tatiana (Plaza), two girls who are neither nice nor respectable, but who feel like they deserve a free tropical vacation. They dress the part, manipulate fate to meet the boys, and the four travel to the Aloha State where everything proceeds to go to hell.
There isn’t anything new or surprising about this story; it’s been done before and it will be done again. But that isn’t a bad thing. Some of history’s best films, comedy or not, have been built on clichés. The magic is in finding something new and special to add to the old recipe.
In Mike & Dave, that special ingredient is the acting. Strong comedic performances lift this movie from being trite and mediocre to being something worth watching. Efron, Devine, Kendrick, and Plaza are all really good at making people laugh, and they have amazing chemistry with one another. Even lesser known players like the bride (Sugar Lyn Beard) and groom (Sam Richardson) are given their moments to shine, and they do not squander them. A picture like this one is less about having a groundbreaking story, and more about letting brilliant comedians off their leashes to do what they do best.
Most comedy movies today suffer from a serious problem; they’re built on a foundation of lazy writing. Filmmakers rely too heavily on jokes over other sources of humor, and it results in a generic and predictable work. But Mike & Dave is refreshing in that it incorporates some great visuals to take pressure off the writing. Director Jake Szymanski really uses the frame for all it’s worth, and the actors just know how to do physical comedy right. The writing isn’t bad either, but it’s still nice to see a comedy that does more than just tell jokes.
Mike & Dave is the latest project from Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O’Brien, the team that wrote both Neighbors pictures.
Simply put, if you liked those films (as many did), there’s a good chance you’ll dig this one as well.
Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates has one job: it has to make you laugh. In the end, it accomplishes that job quite well. It might not always be clever (or classy) in the way it goes about making you laugh, but so what? The filmmakers weren’t trying to go out and make a new Blazing Saddles or Annie Hall. They just wanted to provide audiences with a fun way to kill 98 minutes during an otherwise bland movie season. I can appreciate that myself, and I’d strongly urge you to check out Mike & Dave over the latest Purge or Independence Day.