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Bro-ing to the chapel - 'Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates'

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The past few years have seen the rise of a subgenre of comedic film, movies marked by the foul-mouthed, ludicrous and largely consequence-free antics of idiotic man-boys, overgrown children whose ability to function in any semblance of the real world strains the bounds of suspension of disbelief. They feature long, improv-driven riffs and plenty of raunchy moments.

Needless to say, I tend to enjoy these movies.

This summer's sub-Apatowian submission is 'Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.' Based on a true story (winkwink), it's the tale of two party animal brothers who place an online ad seeking dates to help them their acts together for their sister's wedding. It's lewd and loud, laden with cursewords, packed with sexual contentall in all, a good time.

Not a good movie, mind you but a good time. I laughed a lot. Sometimes while simultaneously cringing, but a lot. Granted, in many ways I'm a man-child myself, but still.

Mike (Adam Devine, 'The Intern') and Dave (Zac Efron, 'Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising') Stangle are bros in both blood and demeanor. Their hard-partying ways have led to an ultimatum courtesy of their father (Stephen Root, 'Finding Dory') if they can't find dates and behave respectably, they will not be welcome at the Hawaiian wedding of their beloved little sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard, 'The Funeral Guest') to her fianc Eric (Sam Richardson, TV's 'Veep').

Being the idiots that they are, the brothers post an ad on Craigslist for dates that winds up going viral. Among the many who seek to join the Stangles for a week in paradise are Alice (Anna Kendrick, 'Get a Job') and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza, 'Dirty Grandpa'), two party girls who love the idea of a free tropical vacation. Through not-particularly-deceptive deception, they convince Mike and Dave that they are nice girls who will make great wedding dates.

They soon discover just how wrong they are.

What follows is a rapid descent into chaos as Alice and Tatiana turn everything upside down, leaving Mike and Dave to try desperately to keep things under control. Unfortunately, with every moment that passes every ATV ride gone awry, every steam room cousin hookup, every orgasm massage, every ecstasy-fueled confession the wedding comes ever close to complete and utter ruin. It all comes down to the Stangle brothers and whether when the chips are down they can be counted on to be the dudes they need to be.

'Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates' is undeniably crass. In fact, it is often crass simply for the sake of being crass. And that's OK the movie has no illusions about what it is, nor does it apologize for it. In fact, it delights in its crassness so thoroughly that it's hard not to have fun even when things get gratuitous.

The film does miss out on an opportunity to actually say something, though. This kind of comedy is almost always male-driven, but for much of this movie, the female leads are the ones pushing the envelope. The whole idea of the female as object of interest is subverted in a bold and very funny fashion early on, but the movie eventually succumbs to some of the temptations of more typical rom-com conventions.

The degree of success that the film does achieve springs largely from the cast. Kendrick and Plaza are hilarious, showing a phenomenal chemistry that exponential increases the impact of their performances. They are fearless with their crudity in a way that transcends mere raunch; their characters might not be named in the title, but this is very much their movie.

That said, the team of Devine and Efron can definitely hang. Devine's manic energy is given free reign; he sputters and stutters and shouts his way through every scene. Alongside that mania, Efron's big-eyed bro-sensitivity is a perfect match; he's never better than when he's playing this persona for laughs. The real affection at the center of the relationship plays nicely.

The supporting cast is strong as well; Root, Beard and Richardson are all great, while Alice Wetterlund and Mary Holland also take memorable turns.

This is director Jake Szymanski's feature debut (though he did direct last year's very funny tennis mockumentary '7 Days in Hell'), but he's well-steeped in comedy, with a lengthy resume of comedic shorts to his credit. The script came from the team of Brendan O'Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen, best known for their screenplay for 'Neighbors.' In short, the production team likely made precisely the movie they aimed to make.

'Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates' is not for everyone; it's a film that takes full advantage of its R-rating. It mines much of its humor from coarseness and mean-spiritedness. Still, if you're not averse to being cursed at for an hour and a half, you might get some pretty big chuckles from this one.

[3.5 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 19:43

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