THE MOVIE GUY: What ‘Mike and Dave’ needs is a few more laughs

Published 12:55 am Friday, July 8, 2016

“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is the latest raunchy comedy with a heart of gold to hit local movie theaters. The twist this time around is that it’s not just the boys who are behaving badly. The two women who become the titular wedding dates (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) prove that they are just as capable as any boy of debasing themselves in service to earning a laugh or two.

It makes for a refreshing update of a genre that’s been a bit stale lately.

Based on a true story, Mike and Dave (Adam DeVine and Zac Efron) are introduced as two hard-partying brothers whose history of wild antics threatens to ruin their sister’s upcoming wedding in Hawaii. The family sits the two brothers down to demand that they find a couple of nice girls to invite to the wedding, foolishly hoping that a female influence might keep the brothers in check.

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Enter Alice and Tatiana (Kendrick and Plaza) two hard-partying girlfriends who decide to make themselves over into good girls in order to score the free trip to Hawaii. It turns out that “being good is hard,” and so they quickly let their hair down and lead the brothers into one wild adventure after another.

It turns into a fairly funny romp, although it could certainly use more laughs. Raunchy comedy filmmakers sometimes confuse audience embarrassment for genuine humor, but that’s not nearly as satisfying as a movie that elicits genuine laughter. Still, there are enough comedic moments to keep the audience happy, particularly those who are in their 20s and not easily offended by juvenile antics.

It’s interesting to watch as Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick try to escape their squeaky clean past careers with out-of-character performances. The scheme is working as Efron is turning into a nice mix of a romantic lead and comic straight man. Kendrick, who has the most nuanced character in the movie, proves yet again that she is talented enough to knock this (any) performance out of the ballpark.

Adam DeVine and Aubrey Plaza are given the more-outlandish roles. DeVine is a little over the top for my tastes, but his fans certainly appreciate his larger-than-life approach to comedy. For my money, Plaza is the one who succeeds the most, but I’ve always loved her smarter-than-you comic persona, which plays really well in this story.

The film does try to wrap things up with a predictably happy ending, which is a bit disappointing as I’d certainly sign up to see the further adventures of Alice and Tatiana. But all things considered, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” has just enough laughs and interesting characters to succeed as a good, but not great summer comedy.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at