At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, there was actually a time when “raunchy comedy” put the comedy first. Movies like Police Academy and Stripes in the 80s, There’s Something About Mary and American Pie in the 90s, and even more recent films like The Hangover and Forgetting Sarah Marshall all focused on the laughs; the raunch usually felt like a bonus afterthought.
Recently, however, studios seem to be holding to the mantra that there can never be too much raunch, and as long as it gets people talking, great. If the movie is funny, too, well– hey, there’s your bonus. Unfortunately, it rarely IS funny, too.
This year alone we’ve been subjected to the criminally un-funny (and thoroughly raunchy) The Boss and Neighbors 2, and though Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates doesn’t quite stoop THAT low, it spends far more time trying to be as obscene as possible, at the expense of the actual bona fide comedy.
The movie stars Zac Efron and Adam Devine as the titular Stangle brothers, on whose real-life adventures the film is based–“sort of”, as we’re told right up front. Because of their reputation and their destructive past history, the guys’ father tells them that they need to bring lady-friends to their sister’s tropical wedding–the thinking being that they would be so busy with their dates to cause trouble. So naturally the pair posts a Craigslist ad, which promptly goes viral.
Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick), being profane and drug-addled rabble-rousers themselves, seize the opportunity as a quick and easy way to get a week’s vacation in Hawaii, so they don their best (stolen) sun dresses and turn on the charm. Before long, though, Tatiana has completely emasculated Mike (Devine) and tossed him aside, while Alice spends all her free time watching hotel porn and obsessing about how she was once left at the altar.
Screenwriters Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen (the go-for-broke man-children behind the aforementioned Neighbors 2) fully ascribe to theory that no scene can’t be made funnier without copious amounts of profanity and/or wildly lewd situations. They also toss an inordinate amount of clunkers into the fray, too. “Maybe Dad will forget his ultimatum!” Dave (Efron) says at one point. “Why would Dad forget his old tomato?” Mike responds. Ugh.
Funny or Die vet Jake Szymanski helms the escapade–it’s his first feature film, but he actually handles it rather well, getting turned-up-to-eleven performances from the entire cast. And to be fair there are more than a handful of jokes that are legitimately funny, if not downright memorable. It’s just a shame that for every bit of smart comedy, there are at least two (and usually more) groan-inducing, eye-roll moments.
MIke and Dave Need Wedding Dates makes no attempt whatsoever to hide exactly the kind of movie it is. If you’re in your teen years (or if you’re not, but your brain still is), you’ll be in hog heaven, wallowing around in all the lewd and lascivious behavior. Those hoping for a throwback to the smart comedies of not-so-long-ago will be disappointed. As you watch Mike and Dave, you’ll realize that it must have been a lot of fun to make. If only it were that much fun to watch.