GNARLY NUPTIALS

It is a compliment to this movie to write that Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is every bit as crude, crass and boyishly stupid as the trailers make it look. And that’s all it’s trying to be. It wants to make you laugh with its immaturity and outrageousness, shock you with its zaniness, and gross you out with its unkempt nudity. And it succeeds. I was happy to play along.

One imagines the pitch the studios folks made to stars Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza: “Want to go to Hawaii for a few weeks, party, shoot a movie, go on an ATV ride and enjoy paradise, all on the studio’s dime?” Seems like a no-brainer, and director Jake Szymanski let them improv to keep the vibe on set playful and fun — stay for the credit cookies and you’ll see what I mean.

The premise for this romp is simple: Idiot twenty-something brothers Mike (Devine) and Dave (Efron) have a bad habit of ruining family gatherings, solemn or otherwise, with their ludicrous alcohol-fueled antics, and their parents (Stephanie Faracy, Stephen Root) are tired of it. So for their sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) Hawaiian destination wedding to Eric (Sam Richardson), Mike and Dave are told they must bring respectable dates. Smart girls with good values and real jobs, the kind of companions who will be a positive influence. So they do what any slacker guys looking for the right girl would do: They post an ad on Craigslist, and of course it goes viral. After a series of terrible trial dates, they meet Tatiana (Plaza) and Alice (Kendrick), who have neither good values nor good (or any) jobs. They are, however, smart enough to dupe the unwitting boys into thinking they’re unstanding citizens, all in the interest of a free trip to Hawaii.

Fun in the sun and much asinine hilarity ensue, and what’s interesting is that the comedy feels fresh even though the story goes through expected beats. A wild ATV ride takes the young revelers through the same valley in Oahu that was used in the Jurassic Park film and, accordingly, the characters have fun recreating moments from that movie. Jeanie gets a massage unlike any we’ve ever seen, and Tatiana does things for Rihanna tickets that are a deviation from the norm, even for her. Being able to legitimately laugh at these scenes and many more is essential as the story moves through the standard motions of
1) the idiotic yet likable brothers predictably screwing up the wedding, 2) revealing the true nature of their dates’ tarnished characters, and 3) Dave and Alice falling in love.

Delightfully, this is (sort of) based on an actual event. The real Mike and Dave Stangle posted an ad on Craigslist in February 2013, looking for acceptable dates for their cousin’s wedding, and because the ad went viral, it led to more than 15 minutes of fame for the adventurous brothers. Most of what occurs in the movie is fiction (one hopes), but if the real-life Mike and Dave are anything at all like the movie-life Mike and Dave we see on the big screen, they’ll probably swear the movie is 100 percent real.

Regardless, there’s something to be said for a film that just wants to make you laugh. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates makes you laugh. That’s good enough for me. 

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