Movie News & Reviews

Two party monsters meet their match in ‘Mike and Dave’

From left, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Zac Efron and Adam Devine star in “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.”
From left, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Zac Efron and Adam Devine star in “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” Gemma LaMana

Comedy is getting nastier and funnier. But it’s hard to imagine any movie nastier and funnier than Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

It’s harsh, crude, vulgar and side-splitting. The beauty of the film, though, is that it’s not coarse or sloppy in its craftsmanship. It belabors nothing, but rather accomplishes in one scene what another film might do in three. And then, once its ingenious setup is in place, it mines it, coming up with one winning comic bit after another, even as the story keeps moving forward.

Hundreds of comedies have been made with a single funny character. In Mike and Dave, every character is comically skewed, opening up lots of possibilities for funny situations. We begin with the brothers, Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron), who are party animals with a tendency for destroying family gatherings. Their sister, Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard), is about to get married in Hawaii, and the family gives them an ultimatum: If they want to be part of the wedding, they must rein in their exuberance and find a pair of nice women to bring as dates.

So they put an advertisement online with what they know will be an attractive offer — an all-expenses-paid weekend in Hawaii. Soon they are deluged with women wanting to be chosen.

The key to Mike and Dave is the women, and they are like a device from a 17th-century Restoration comedy. Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) pretend to be nice women in order to be asked to the wedding. But they are bigger party monsters than Mike and Dave.

Tatiana is ill-tempered and gleefully manipulative, while Alice seems sweet and vulnerable but is really a colossal mess.

Every so often in comedy, the filmmakers will get into a creative groove in which every scene is imaginative, unhinged and successful. This happens in Mike and Dave. There’s a disaster involving an argument accidentally broadcast over a live microphone, and another disaster involving an all-terrain vehicle. There’s a crazy incident involving the drug Ecstasy and horses. But best of all, there’s a tantric massage scene that’s an instant classic, involving the bride-to-be and an agile Indian masseur.

It tells you something about the comic richness of Mike and Dave — its strength up and down the cast — that such a highlight should feature secondary characters. But then, there is plenty of comedy to go around. This is the first feature film from director Jake Szymanski, and the worst that can be said for him is that he’s given himself a tough act to follow.

Movie review

‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’

Rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity. 1:38. Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester, Woodhill.

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