Starring Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, Stephanie Beard, Stephen Root, Sam Richardson, Alice Wetterland and Stephanie Faracy
Directed by Jake Szymanski
There’s an indistinct charm about 90’s comedies that, despite themselves, gave it the old college try. That’s probably because they were all films about frat boys up to no good, with breasts as their co-stars. At the time it was an inquisitive look (not that there was much to find) into teenage culture that preferred low brow sex jokes and toilet humour over cultivated wit and satire. The fad passed on when we grew up and recognised just how dumb it all was.
But in Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates it’s telling that the two titular characters are portrayed by two actors who were more than likely moulded as comedic performers based on those 90’s films. What’s more damning is the characters they play have, along with the film itself, missed the grow-up memo. Mike & Dave has all the necessary ingredients for a comedy made twenty years ago. Men-children (though that hasn’t yet gone out of style), straight-laced seniors, that one up-tight character and a situation with a supporting cast whose lives will be ruined by their antics. Plus there’s some pot, because every bad boy and girl rips cones, and of course there are breasts. Because it’s just not a comedy if it doesn’t have breasts.
And this is entirely what the four main leads have to go on, although Mike & Dave barely demonstrates the intentions of anything greater. And this derision has an amazing effect on the less-experienced players. Adam Devine’s performance is more of a cartoon sidekick amped up to eleven, while Aubrey Plaza’s role is meant to characterise the inciting and impetuous nature that this film champions. Instead she comes across as rude, irresponsible and extremely unlikeable. You must be this tall to make Mike & Dave work, and it failed miserably.
Often I feel I’m just getting old and that’s sad because I’m only twenty-five, but I did laugh a number of times throughout. I guess it’s not the machine that’s definitively irreparable, it’s more we’ve had our a fun. The adults-behaving-as-children scenario has had an enduring run, but it’s time Mike and Dave grew up. The film-makers were clearly aiming for a nostalgia trip to lure an audience, because plenty of these films are desultorily slapped together and they transcend Mike & Dave. So rather than treat us with disdain couldn’t they have taken a cue from their own creations and, even if failure was inevitable, given it the old college try?