Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza. Directed by Jake Szymanski. Rated R. Opens Friday citywide.
Basing a movie on a Craigslist ad leaves a lot of room for embellishment, and that’s what happens in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, with both positive and negative results. Inspired by real-life brothers Mike and Dave Stangle, the movie starts out with a version of the brothers’ ad that went viral, which solicited dates for their cousin’s wedding. The movie makes it their sister’s wedding to which Mike (Workaholics’ Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) need dates, because they’ve been deemed too reckless to be trusted without chaperones.
Everything that follows is entirely fictional, as two equally degenerate friends and roommates, Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), pretend to be demure and accomplished so they can score a free trip to Hawaii to accompany Mike and Dave to the wedding. What ensues is a mix of tiresome gross-out jokes and slapstick and some surprisingly sensitive character development, especially for Alice, whom Kendrick plays as a wounded but thoughtful woman tentatively allowing herself to trust again. Of course, she does that by, among other things, taking ecstasy and frolicking naked with horses, but at least there’s some genuine emotion behind the ridiculous comedy. That’s more than can be said for Mike and Dave themselves, whose arcs are less convincing. The inconsistent character development fits with the inconsistent humor in a movie that falters as often as it shines.