‘I’ ON CULTURE
Just when the news makes us yearn for a good comedy, we get Dave and Mike Need Wedding Dates. The good news is that it is often funny; the bad news that it is a bit of a mess. The plot meanders, never quite really hitting home, but there are times the audience is near-hysterical with laughter. Yes, the leads play idiots, but they are nice ones. They screw up because they are stupid, not evil, and that makes a difference.
Dave (Zac Efron) and Mike (Adam DeVine) are partners in the wholesale liquor business. Their father (Stephen Root) notes that they constantly ruin every family event by coming stag, hitting on women, and then messing things up. Their baby sister Jeanie (Stephanie Beard) is getting married in Hawaii, and the boys are ordered to get “respectable dates.”
The ads they run bring out the clearly moronic and sleazy. Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), just fired because Alice comes to work both drunk and stoned, decide to get the free vacation. They pretend to be good girls who just accidentally run in to the boys (Tatiana arranges to be hit by a car so Mike can “save” her) and get invited to the wedding.
The two girls win over the family, but soon begin causing even more destruction than the brothers ever have. Alice slips a masseur money to give the bride-to-be a “special massage.” Mike catches Tatiana in a steam room fooling around with a lesbian cousin. Dave and Alice actually become friends, while Mike is furious enough to create a disaster at the wedding rehearsal. Alice slips some ecstasy to the uptight bride, and we have further disaster. Things fall apart until all the main characters realize they were at fault and work to make things right.
The movie is quite derivative… think Wedding Crashers, which is mentioned rather a lot. The biggest difference is that in this film, the woman are the wilder ones. The guys are good-natured goofs who manage to screw things up. The two girls go far deeper into the sleazy pool. Alice is either stoned or drunk or both most of movie. Tatiana is openly using Mike, giving nothing back. But the idea that both sexes can be wild and weird is a fun one. Ironically, the stoned one (Alice) is more interesting because she seems willing to act nicely, even if she is in a fog.
Efron and DeVine are good as the two guys. DeVine yells a lot and makes faces (Tatiana says that he looks like a funhouse mirror version of what a handsome guy should look like), but he does show a nice sweetness. Efron is a great straight man. His sense of timing has really sharpened over the years. Kendrick is good as Alice. She manages the comedy scenes well and handles the more serious elements so nicely that you actually like her despite the problems she causes. But Plaza steals the film. Her comic timing is superb, often wonderfully underplayed. Her act as a second-grade teacher, wearing large eyeglasses, and nibbling very delicately on the end of a pencil, fooling no one except these dumb men, was delightful.
Even the steam room scene with a very funny Alice Wetterlund is well-played as she talks about being able to get backstage passes to Rihanna concerts (Alice is crazy about that singer), but Tatiana will have to be “friendlier” if she wants to score those passes for her friend. The look on Plaza’s face in that scene is priceless. Special kudos should be given to Beard, who turns out to be the target of a whole lot of awful things that wind up making her seem a victim while somehow sailing through all of the crises.
The biggest weakness in the script is that the men are so totally clueless that even these drunken, rowdy ladies seem far too good for them.
I must confess that I laughed along with the audience, although there was a bit of guilt later. This is a decent comedy of the Judd Apatow variety (although he had nothing to do with the film), but it probably would be best to wait until it shows up on cable… and make sure the kids are not around.