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Film Reviews Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a cheap, lazy and gross bit of idiocy

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a superficial comedy teasing the subversion of tropes before cashing in on them, and stars Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick deserve better.

Gemma LaMana

1 out of 4 stars

Title
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
Written by
Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O'Brien
Directed by
Jake Szymanski
Starring
Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza
Genre
Comedy
Classification
14A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2016

In the final frames of this comedy, which strains to be both sweet and raunchy but achieves neither, we are treated to a shot of Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Mike (Adam Devine) having sex. I'd call Mike a Boy-Man, but he's not even that mature; he's supposed to be naive and somewhat dimwitted, but he registers as closer to brain-damaged. Let's call him a Baby-Man. He's been pursuing his wedding date, the reprobate Tatiana, who is way too much woman for him, for the past hour. That she's finally given in is supposed to be "fun."

Here's the shot: Mike lies on his back on a hay bale. His legs are in the air. Tatiana – skirt hiked up, bare bum exposed – is standing over him, thrusting. She's screwing him, get it? She's the guy! Hilarious, right? To drive the point home, Mike even says, "I didn't know you could do it this way."

My heart, which had already sunk to my ankles, sank through the floor. Is this the best we can do for a comedienne as devilish and intelligent as Plaza? (Sure, that's likely a butt double, but audiences won't care.) To see her in that utterly compromised position – and I'm talking about the whole film here, not just this shot – is as appalling as the grossest horror porn. It's a sight I wish I could unsee.

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I would call this whole exercise dispiriting, except I'm pretty sure its intended audience wouldn't understand that word.

Written by Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien, and directed by first-timer Jake Szymanski, it's based on a true (ish) story (ish) about two brothers – Zac Efron plays Dave, Mike's protective, slightly less stupid sibling – who advertise on Craigslist for nice girls to take to their little sister Jeanie's (Sugar Lyn Beard) insanely lavish wedding in Hawaii. Perpetual screw-ups, they hope this scheme will get them back into their family's good graces.

You'll never guess what happens, though – it backfires! Tatiana and her bestie Alice (Anna Kendrick, who also deserves much better), party girls who can't keep a job, pose as a teacher and a banker to cadge a free vacation (though it's unclear what they need a vacation from), and they whip up even more chaos than the brothers. Ecstasy is consumed, horses are freed from corrals, fireworks misfire. The bride gets smacked in the face with an ATV tire, and then receives a porny massage that goes on so long you'll be begging for a release yourself – from the theatre. Most dispiriting was the audience, who seemed to find it all hysterical. Sigh.

I did sit up at the one-hour mark, though, during the so-called dark night of the soul, when the four main characters briefly feel sad enough about the havoc they've wrought to ponder their flaws. Earnestly, they bond over realizations like these, from Tatiana: "We're always telling each other we're awesome when we're definitely not being awesome," and, "Occasionally we should think about how we make other people feel."

For a nanosecond I was intrigued – could this movie be secretly radical? Is the relentless idiocy of its characters actually a subversive poke at the glorification of stupidity, or a withering comment on narcissism?

Nope. Turns out that the learning and growing was just a set-up for Tatiana to exclaim, "[Expletive deleted] me in the dick!"

You may think I'm being too hard on this film. It's possible I saw it on the wrong night, in the wrong mood. But I'm fed up with the cheap laziness of this strain of comedy. When I was eight, I found it side-splitting that Ken's doll hand was moulded in a curve that fit perfectly over Barbie's breast. But then I grew up.

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