In the new comedy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, we meet a couple of brothers with a reputation for partying so hard that their family insists they bring nice girls to their little sister's wedding in Hawaii, lest their philandering ways ruin the special day for everyone. The brothers are the spirited reimagining of a couple of real-life brothers in New York who embarked on a similar adventure. Apparently, the guys put up a humorous Craigslist post in search of ladies and the thing went viral.
In the movie, Mike and Dave, played by Adam DeVine ("Workaholics") and Zac Efron (Neighbors), are a couple of good-natured bros who like setting fires and drinking, but they are no match for Alice and Tatiana, played by Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza. We first meet Alice and Tatiana as they're getting fired from their waitressing gigs for being too drunk on the job. Alice has a straight-up drinking problem and Tatiana may be a legitimate psychopath, but they're a lot of fun.
In the last several years, we've seen binders full of women occupying roles in comedies usually reserved for men. The buddy-cop movie The Heat and the new Ghostbusters come to mind. But a buddy comedy double date—that's a horse of a different color.
- “Wait, did you say we should ‘huddle’ or ‘cuddle’?"
Platonic life partners are useful for storytelling, and many of us have been there. One day you wake up and realize it's been six months since your last relationship ended and you and your best friend have graduated from coffee dates to paying bills together. Movies take the scenario a step weirder when these friend units meet their counterparts and start double dating. Remember in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey when the fellas turn to the princesses and say in tandem, "Will you marry us?" It's beyond absurd, but the trope creates a comforting fantasy: You and your bestie will never be separated, so long as you meet your soulmates together.
The girls see Mike and Dave on "The Wendy Williams Show" and conspire to con their way into a Hawaiian vacation. A romcom needs to be based on a series of elaborate and unnecessary lies, so just answering the ad won't do. Instead, the girls put on pastel dresses and Tatiana hurls herself in front of a car, requiring Mike to save her life with CPR. If you're playing along at home, "fake car accident as meet cute" may or may not win you the game in Predictable Movie Bingo. The girls will make it to Hawaii and, at first, use the men and then grow to like them. And of course, in the grand tradition of movies whose plot culminates at an expensive wedding, someone gives an embarrassing toast.
Mike and Dave is dumb and sloppy, but there's a certain levity and joy among these four leading actors that make it hard for me to dismiss it entirely. Men and women are equally prone to irresponsible behavior, and it's nice to see that reality play out on screen, like when Alice steals away with the bride before the wedding night to trip balls in a field of horses. A lesser movie might have had the girls stumble onto the drugs by accident, but Alice had them tucked away in her bra. Call me old-fashioned, but I have a soft spot for any movie starring women who have their own dealer.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates continues at the Carmike 12.