by ALEX CARNEVALE
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
dir. Jake Szymanski
Eric (Veep's Sam Richardson) is marrying a white woman named Jeanie (Stephanie Beard) who comes from a unique family. Eric gives Jeanie some absurd pecks on the lips but basically he is not allowed to touch her for the duration of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, despite the fact that this Hawaiian wedding is supposed to be the greatest day of his life.
Instead of touching her swarthy, African-American husband-to-be, Jeanie complains that she never got the bachelorette party that she deserved and has multiple orgasms with a Pakistani masseuse. She has only one friend in the world, a lanky Jewish woman who serves as her maid of honor. This is a considerable improvement over her fiance, however, who has no parents or friends at his wedding at all.
Instead of their pals from college or work, Jeanie and Eric are pathetically focused on the abstract lives of Jeanie's brothers Mike (Zac Efron) and Dave (Adam Devine). Efron looks like he is being held hostage for most of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Romantically he is paired with Anna Kendrick, who appreciates his meager talents such as they are. Instead of allowing Mike's dream to be that of a dancer or singer, he wants to be an illustrator.
Anna Kendrick's face needs a rest. She looks exhausted and bloated from the sheer number of roles she has taken over the past year. There is something profoundly unhappy in her mien, and it doesn't help that she is wearing either the world's most terrible wig for the duration of this movie or she simply couldn't be bothered to comb her hair. Her character was recently left at the altar by a man who we never learn very much about, but given the massive amount of drugs and alcohol she consumes in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, it is hard to say he made the wrong call.
During the rehearsal dinner, Kendrick gives Jeanie a bunch of MDMA. Nothing bad at all happens from this, which passes on the lovely lesson that dropping molly can only lead to romping with horses in the Hawaiian countryside and realizing you don't want to consummate your interracial marriage. There is not a lot of love between of any of these people: they specifically are never any good at valuing each other's positive qualities.
Left to carry the humor and, strangely, also the emotional end of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is Adam Devine (Workaholics, Modern Family). First off, it must be noted the herculean effort on the part of everyone involved with this production to make Devine and his co-star Efron look normal-sized. Both are absolutely tiny, and you really wish they would own that and make it part of the story instead of shooting everything like Mission Impossible 2 where Tom Cruise looked approximately 6'5".
You do begin to forget about how much of a delicate morsel of a human being Devine is. His relationship (or lack thereof) with Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) begins when she intentionally is hit by a car so that she can pretend he saved her via CPR. In this role as femme fatale, Plaza fits the casting in everything but her chipped teeth. Her New York accent is vaguely offensive and somewhat distracting, but the rest of her is a welcome evolution from the snippy roles she usually inhabits.
Aubrey Plaza and Devine are the only people in this movie that seem the least bit suited for each other, so of course she spends the entire running time avoiding him, climaxig in a scene where she fingers his female cousin for the chance at Rihanna tickets. This doesn't seem the slightest bit out of character, but it makes it ridiculous that she ever writes off Devine, who is completely her type.
Sometimes Devine seems to be merely vamping jokes and one-liners from his slacker series on Comedy Central, Workaholics, but other times his back-and-forths with Efron are genuinely funny and sweet. One I Love Lucy-esque scene takes place on a bizarrely tiny beach (to make them look bigger?). As Devine explains how everything in his life has gone completely wrong, he becomes a distinctly, plausible human being. Devine has a deft grasp on playing a person who cannot succeed on any aspect of himself other than his own enthusiasm.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.