In February 2013, Mike and Dave Stangle were told they were not allowed to show up to their cousin’s wedding without dates. To fulfill their cousin’s wishes, they put a lengthy ad on Craigslist, which sought the perfect dates that would impress their entire family. “You should be attractive or our aunts will judge you, but not TOO attractive or one of our uncles might grope you,” were some of the stipulations in their original self-aggrandizing post. Accompanied by a picture of their heads Photoshopped onto centaurs, their ad went viral.
The Stangle brothers’ ad became so popular that a book was written and a movie was made about their quest for the perfect wedding date. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates stars Zac Efron as Dave and Adam Devine as Mike. The two brothers live together, work together and party together. They walk into their apartment one day and find their entire family sitting there, intervention-style. Their dad (Stephen Root) insists they bring someone to their younger sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding. (The cousin has been exchanged for a younger sister in the film version.) They protest their father but Jeanie insists that it was her idea for them to bring dates. No one wants to risk Mike and Dave getting out of control and hitting on all of the bridesmaids.
Anything for Jeanie, the brothers say. So the Craigslist ad is created. They interview an onslaught of weird ladies, who are mostly looking for a trip to Hawaii. Discouraged that they have not met any viable candidates, Mike and Dave meet Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and Alice (Anna Kendrick). After seeing Mike and Dave on TV, the two best friends have concocted a scheme to get the Stangle brothers to take them on a trip.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates takes us on a sunny trip to Hawaii, where wedding comedy hijinks inevitably ensue. Tatiana and Alice have a hard time keeping up with their backstories because they don’t really care about impressing anyone; they just want a vacation.
Plaza and Kendrick, while dishonest and scheming, offer the majority of the sharp one-liners in the film. Efron doesn’t deliver anything that we are not used to seeing from his comedies – it’s just another variation of his Peter Pan Syndrome persona. Devine – known mostly for TV’s Workaholics or the Pitch Perfect movies – gets his first real big role. He’s loud and grating, usually operating at a 20, when we would settle for a 10. There are echoes of Jack Black in Devine’s persona, which is over-the-top and rarely funny.
Writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien carry scenes on for far too long and the jokes don’t often land. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates does have a handful of funny moments but most are killed by the repetitious nature of individual scenes. Director Jake Szymanski holds shots for far too long, hoping to give the audience time to catch-up and laugh. This movie is not that smart; we are already mentally on the next scene before the writers or directors leave the previous.
In the real Stangle brothers’ ad, they included the dates would get royalties once their night’s story is developed into a romantic comedy. Unabashedly confident, they gave themselves an 85-percent chance of that happening. Turns out they were right, for better or for worse.
5 out of 10