Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

(2016)  1/2 R
98 min. 20th Century Fox. Director: Jake Szymanski. Cast: Zac Efron, Adam Devine, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza.

/content/films/4932/1.jpgSome films strive for a timelessness, aiming for future-classic status through finesse of scriptwriting and performance and visual design. And then there’s Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, a lazy, crass comedy that all but confesses it’s Mr. Right Now, not Mr. Right, by name-checking better films like Jurassic Park and Wedding Crashers.

The Wedding Crashers allusion at least makes sense, as Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates nakedly aspires to the earlier movie’s wedding-themed humor. The new film comes “inspired by the life stories of Mike Stangle and Dave Stangle,” two dumb, profane, mean-spirited, self-obsessed perma-fratboys who once ran a Craiglist ad to get dates for a family wedding. Mock-convinced their story would be “developed into a romantic comedy,” they wrote, “We refuse to let Ashton Kutcher play either of our characters, however, we will consider him for a supporting role.” That comma splice turned out to be prophetic: no Ashton Kutcher to be seen, but rather Adam Devine (Pitch Perfect, Workaholics) as wantonly destructive Mike and Zac Efron as almost-as-boneheaded Dave.

At the outset, Mike and Dave’s parents (Stephen Root and Stephanie Faracy) implore the boys to “grow up,” so as not to ruin another family event with drunken debauchery they intend to impress women. The mandatory solution: secure women before they arrive at the Hawaiian wedding of their sweet sister (Sugar Lyn Beard) to nice guy Eric (Sam Richardson of Veep). Two conniving lowlifes—Anna Kendrick’s Alice and Aubrey Plaza’s Tatiana—answer the call, the joke being that they’re a match made in hell for Mike and Dave, even if they disguise their own walking-disaster status until it’s too late to ditch them.

Yes, they’re meant for each other, and the fact that Mike and Dave will inevitably turn into a rom com blunts its potential as a black comedy of comeuppance for the titular jerks. The lazy script by Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O'Brien (the team behind Efron’s Neighbors movies) encourages first-time feature director Jake Szymanski to embrace the juvenile and amp up everything past amusing, past funny, and into grotesque. Devine embodies the approach with his rubbery mugging, while Efron merely looks hot and yells a lot as the ostensible straight man. Plaza and Kendrick wring a few deadpan chuckles, but all around it’s a shame that talented performers (especially the women) are wasted on such dire material.

You’ve seen everything here before, in some form, including the physical punishment doled out on the hapless bride-to-be and the oh-so-naughty sex scene, this time played out between Beard and guest-star Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), who’s saddled with a guru-esque massage therapist role that trades on racial stereotypes. The ultimate canary in the coal mine: a “say hello to my little friend” joke, which guarantees a film’s creative bankruptcy.

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Aspect ratios: 2.39:1

Number of discs: 2

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1

Street date: 9/27/2016

Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Fox cordinally invites you to enjoy Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD special edition. A/V specs prove top notch, with picture quality anchored by rock-solid black level and finely calibrated contrast. The digital-to-digital transfer looks especially bright and tight in its sunny exteriors, but the image looks boldly colorful even when there aren't conspicuous blue skies. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is pretty standard stuff, with mostly front and center dialogue and potent support of the music (much of it source cues). Beyond that, the mix doesn't offer much in the way of a detailed soundscape or immersive directional effects, but it doesn't need to; the sound effects accompanying pratfalls and the aghast crowd reactions do most of that sort of work (exception: roaring ATVs that engage the LFE).

Extensive bonus features are a big draw for the disc, which includes a lively audio commentary by director Jake Szymanski and a feature-length amount of bonus footage. This includes fourteen "Deleted Scenes" (23:48 with "Play All" option, HD) and sixteen "Extended Scenes" (39:12 with "Play All" option, HD). Most of this footage hit the cutting room floor for good reason, but there are some good yuks to be had from an excised "Alternate Pig Sequence" (7:45, HD) of scenes, comprising a subplot involving a roasted pig that provides some interesting editing insight. So do "Bits on Bits on Bits" (6:21, HD) and "Line-O-Rama" (10:02, HD), which both find the actors improvising added business or lines, or simply delivering line "alts" being fed to them.

The "Gag Reel" (5:27, HD) expands on the version served up in the end credits, and we also get three amusing "Funny or Die Shorts" (6:40 with "Play All" option, HD), the first with the cast sharing "personal" wedding stories, the second about Adam Devine’s supposed sensitivity to the clapperboard ("I asked for soft sticks!"), and the third essaying Zac Efron’s purported obsession with his new selfie stick.

Rounding out the disc are an Art Gallery with 40 production snaps and an option to skip through manually ot enjoy on auto-play; the "Red Band Theatrical Trailer" (2:25, HD) and the "Green Band Theatrical Trailer" (2:22, HD).

Fans of the stars who want to dig into their on-set riffing are the target audience for this special edition, which looks and sounds great in hi-def.


Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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