Historical entertainment planned for joint celebration of three Southwest Arkansas milestone anniversaries
"Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates" announces early on a premise with an easy solution. The two titular brothers — as played by Adam Devine (Mike) and Zac Efron (Dave) — are hard-partying man-children with a deserved reputation for wrecking family gatherings. Their sister is getting married in Hawaii, so she and the parents have what amounts to an intervention: Bring a couple of nice girls to distract you, rather than chasing bridesmaids for the week. The bros relent. Yes, they will find two ladies to schlep to Hawaii. No, this will not go as planned.
For a Nerf-headed boner comedy, "Mike and Dave" has an unlikely true-life precedent in a couple of actual dudes named Dave and Mike Stangle. Circa 2005, their parents asked them not to come stag to their sister's wedding. These real dudes did what the dopes in the movie do, which is post a Craigslist ad (complete with their faces photoshopped onto hypermasculine centaurs) that went viral, got them hundreds of ladies' info, and made them legends to the Maxim set. In the movie version of their lives, a pair of trashy-and-damn-proud New Yorkers — Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza — clean themselves up, sidle up to our lovelorn bros at a bar, pass themselves off as a hedge fund manager and a schoolteacher and eyelash-bat their way into a tropical vacation.
From this setup, director Jake Syzmanski, whose credits include a long list of Funny or Die and "Saturday Night Live" segments, manages to turn out a series of set pieces that almost amounts to a real movie, albeit one whose go-to move is yelling for perceived comedic effect. Devine in particular seems to have been born without an inside voice, while Efron, now veteran of two "Neighbors" flicks, has some comedic chops that can't help but be overshadowed by his obnoxiously good looks. They're likable enough as the dolts who unwittingly brought in the two ticking time bombs to the gentile family event in paradise. Kendrick and Plaza, meanwhile, run the show. Kendrick's Alice, a nervous sort of rogue, is still recouping from getting dumped at the altar; Plaza's Tatiana is the unflappable alpha who keeps up the coquettish schoolteacher act between burning spliffs in bed and swatting away Mike's advances.
As it is an American wedding comedy, one that would like to be shown on cable in its afterlife, "Mike and Dave" takes a tour of all things raunchy and slapstick before domesticating itself into a movie where people learn actual lessons. (Tops on the list: If you look around and realize everything you touch turns to fireworks ash and/or family infighting, maybe a moment of self-reflection is in order.) And while it cranks up the part of the bride (Sugar Lyn Beard) to a tinny roar, the script loses the groom (Sam Richardson) in a straight-man role that should have produced at least a single laugh.
What you can hand it: The cast seems to be just frickin' going for it, whatever it is. "Mike and Dave" is likable, if frivolous. But everyone in it is laying out as if it's the last acting job they're ever going to have. That means a lot of listening to people bray at one another at top volume. It also means the occasional snort-laugh through your nose, always great when you're on a date.