Mike and Dave need more a whole lot more than dates in the comedy “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” They could have used, but were denied, a few jokes, a coherent screenplay and some direction — any direction at all might have helped.
What they do get are wretched gags, potty-mouth dialogue, frat-boy buffoonery and maudlin sentimentality.
In a sense, this is an amazing movie: a comedy where absolutely nothing is funny and every gag misfires. How is that even possible? Couldn’t someone have accidentally done something funny?
Much of the credit goes to writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien. Supposedly they saw an ad by two guys on Craigslist looking for dates to a wedding where the bride insisted bringing dates was “mandatory” if they were to attend so the two would not harass her female friends all night.
What if, the two writers asked themselves, their dates were even crazier than the men obviously were?
Okay, it’s a workable premise. Only Cohen and O’Brien never figure out how to make it work. Picture four manic actors trying to out “crazy” each other, how to be that much more obnoxious than each other, and you get an idea of how pathetic and exhausting an experience “Mike and Dave” is.
But let’s not let the writers hog all the credit. Debuting director Jake Szymanski who, press notes assure you, has made “hilarious short form comedies,” brings to feature films no ability to guide performers into anything remotely humorous. Seemingly, he lets each go off in any number of directions, none of them leading to the Promised Land of Comedy.
For his leads, two hard-partying brothers, Mike and Dave, he chose Adam Devine and Zac Efron, two actors who do look rather alike and also dress nearly alike and attempt to clown in exactly the same manner. So every time they occupy the same space together it’s as if someone stuck a mirror on the set.
However, for the two crazy dates Szymanski actually had a smart idea. Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza are good looking and very funny and are welcome additions to any cast. This time, however, they get only one of those things right: they are good looking.
At times you can see the actresses looking at one another with quizzical expressions on their faces as if to say, “Did I just say that and how is that funny?” It could be my imagination though. They do have the uncanny ability to make an audience think they just wandered in from a different and much better movie though.
The wedding, fortunately, takes place in Hawaii so at least an audience has something to look at when actors aren’t blocking the scenery. A Mai Tai or two might also help.
Speaking of which, most of the antics of these two brothers and their crazy dates stem from alcoholism. The movie treats this as mere binge drinking but clearly, in each case, these four are chronic alcoholics. They certainly can’t get through a single night in this movie without booze and drugs to fuel the partying.
Now you can have one drunk in a movie and perhaps even two. But four gets tiresome. Just for variety’s sake, couldn’t someone be sober? Even the bride (Sugar Lyn Beard) goes on a binge near the end.
I could go on but that’s a mistake the movie makes. I’ll just end this on a positive note by remarking you may leave the cinema feeling good about yourself. After all, you probably know no one in real life like any of these characters. So that’s something to be genuinely grateful for.
Opens: July 8, 2016 (20th Century Fox)
Production company: Chernin Entertainment
Cast: Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Stephen Root, Sam Richardson, Sugar Lyn Beard, Eugene Cordero, Lavell Crawford, Stephanie Faracy, Mary Holland, Marc Maron, Kumail Nanjiani, Bob Turton, Alice Wetterlund
Director: Jake Szymanski
Screenwriters: Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien
Inspired by the life stories of: Mike and Dave Stangle
Producers: Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Jonathan Levine
Executive producers: David Ready, Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien, Nan Morales
Director of photography: Matthew Clark
Production designer: Tyler Robinson
Music: Jeff Cardoni
Costume designer: Debra McGuire
Editors: Jonathan Schwartz, Lee Haxall
R rating, 98 minutes