Eleven years ago, the world witnessed the iconic American comedy “Wedding Crashers.” Combining an uncontrollable duo with regrettable decisions, it scored many laughs from viewers. Now, director Jake Szymanski navigates toward this same humorous premise with a ridiculously funny, mid-summer tale of wedding shenanigans in “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.”
After ruining family events in the past, hard-core party brothers Mike Stangle (Adam DeVine) and Dave Stangle (Zac Efron) are instructed by their parents to bring dates to their little sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding in Hawaii. The duo sets out on a mission to find the perfect escorts by posting an ad to Craigslist and advertising themselves on The Wendy Williams Show, thus catching the eyes of Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza). In order to secure Mike and Dave as their dates, the girls pretend to be civilized and respectable, but the act soon wears off in Hawaii as the boys realize their dates are more rowdy than they had imagined.
Interestingly enough, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is loosely based on a true story. Back in 2013, the real Mike and Dave Stangle were living life on the edge in the form of wild adventures and dating escapades in New York City. When the tale behind their sister’s wedding went viral, it led to book and movie deals. In a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel Live, Efron and DeVine mention how it was meeting the real Mike and Dave on set for the first time. “(We were) chugging coffee to wake up, and they’re drunk. And I’m like, ‘(They’re) my kind of guys,’” DeVine said.
The film’s persistent use of humor mirrors Zac Efron’s frat boy persona in “Neighbors.” Mike and Dave live in a fantasy world deprived of responsibilities where the days entail various spontaneous experiences. Yet, the flurry of pranks and amusing jokes soon gets old, their comical effect lasting about as long as a Snapchat. The film also orchestrates an unamusing theme throughout the plot sequence — that young people are ignorant and foolish. In an ATV ride around a Jurassic Park-themed landscape, the group’s actions result in Jeanie getting severely injured in the face and, later, they risk jeopardizing her wedding.
Unfortunately, the film displays sexist undertones where women are targeted as mere objects or plot advancements rather than complex characters. Although Alice and Tatiana initially outsmart Mike and Dave, their classlessness and lack of self-esteem reduces them to tired party girl clichés. In a conversation with Tatiana, Alice mentions drily that “being a nice girl is hard.” Nevertheless, the wild getaway portrays women devoid of ambitions, careers and self-respect — the closest being Tatiana pretending to be a teacher to impress Mike. And even that is not convincing.
Although the film possesses some setbacks, Alice’s character development leaves the audience warm-hearted. When her fiance leaves her at the altar, Alice is crushed. Yet, this spur-of-the-moment vacation allows her to let go of the past and begin again. Mike also experiences a transformative moment: Despite constant comparisons to his brother’s attractiveness and intelligence throughout the film, he is able to finally accept himself without constantly depending on Dave.
Stemming from a range of movies such as “Bridesmaids” and “The Hangover,” “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” channels raw humor with a series of risky adventures in a tropical vacation destination. For a film inspired by a Craigslist ad, it’s not all that bad. But even with its fair share of hilarious and touching moments, the underlying issues concerning gender politics are not so easily forgiven.