15 – 98mins – 2016
BROS BEFORE HO-LIDAYS
While still in the young, wild and hunky bracket of his 20s, former Wildcat warbler Zac Efron has oft been cast as the rebellious, self-destructive type – whether ruining his own relationship (That Awkward Moment), his neighbours’ sense of community spirit (Bad Neighbours, Sorority Rising) or his career (We Are Your Friends). As the titular Dave in his latest comedy, the charming Disney alum plays the (slightly) straighter sidekick to his “loser” brother, Mike (Adam Ice Age: Collision Course DeVine), more akin to his enabler role in the deplorable Bad Grandpa.
Hampered by a sense of debt to the older sibling who saved him from name-calling bullies at school (“Moist!“), Dave is painted as – while not innocent – the more capable of the two. Constrained by the company he keeps, Dave quashes his own ambitions to be a comic book illustrator in order to play partner-in-crime to his fun lovin’, vodka-hocking big bro’s carefree lifestyle.
Sick of the pair’s infantile antics, Mike and Dave’s frustrated parents (Stephen Root and Stephanie Faracy) set them an ultimatum (not “old tomato”, Mike!) before their sister Jeanie’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) upcoming wedding: find two respectable girls to bring with them to the Hawaiian nuptials, or don’t bother coming.
So the die is cast and the two “party bringers” take to – of all places – Craigslist to bag themselves girlfriends, only for their all-expenses-paid offer to go viral. Enter foul-mouthed waitress Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and her recently dumped-at-the-altar roomie, Alice (Anna Kendrick), who with a bit of acting and a lot of lying see the perfect opportunity to blag a free vacay to Hawaii.
While Plaza does an admirable job of selling herself as a free ‘n’ easy slacker, it is almost as hard to strip Pitch Perfect’s Kendrick of her sweetness as it is to believe Efron has trouble finding dates. Screenwriters Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brian go to extremes to justify it (Alice’s obsession with her wedding video, her ecstasy stash), but when separated from their bad role models there’s no denying Alice and Mike make a cute couple.
As the truth outs and shit hits the fan on the isle where Jurassic Park was filmed, it stretches credulity somewhat to believe Mike would ever forgive Tatiana her disgraceful faux-pas, but the mismatched rebels do eventually locate their moral compasses in time to rectify all the damage their selfish out-of-control behaviour has caused.
Pendulating from guffaws to awwws, while Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates is never going to be considered a genre classic, it is pitched just right for today’s comedy landscape: lewd, crude and riotous enough to be cool while with enough underlying heart to just about justify its bad manners.
CR@B’s Claw Score: