Believe it or not, the third Zac Efron gross-out buddy comedy of 2016 is based on a true story. Well, as the opening credits indicate, sort of true. But the bigger shocker for me is that after enduring the abysmal Dirty Grandpa and the not-a-whole-lot-better Neighbors 2, Efron is back in top comic form as Dave Stangle, who along with brother Mike (Adam Devine) are a pair of sweet but epic screwups, particularly when it comes to family gatherings, as we learn in a montage sequence early on. They’re basically frat boys who haven’t grown up a whole lot but are goodhearted and even well-meaning. However their father (Stephen Root) tells them they have to get their act together for the wedding of little sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) in Hawaii and that means coming with proper dates who hopefully will keep them in line.
So what do they do? As I explain in my video review above, the “true” part of the script from Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’ Brien, which was inspired by the Stangle brothers’ book, focuses on the pair advertising on Craigslist for a couple of proper girls they can take to Hawaii to act as dates for their sister’s big weekend. The ploy draws a number of possibilities, but most do not come close to passing the test in the meeting stage — until their quest gets them national publicity and an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, which is seen by Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), a couple of real over-the-top ditzo girls. These two arrange to find a way to accidentally meet a clueless Mike and Dave and convince them they are just what they want, without letting the guys know they know who they are. Alice is particularly sheepish about going through with the plan as she has recently been jilted by her fiancee at the altar and spends her days watching the video of that horrifying moment over and over. Nevertheless, Tatiana, who passes herself off as a teacher, convinces her it is a free trip to Hawaii with a couple of cute guys. So off the quartet goes.
The fun really ramps up with some hilarious set pieces including a has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed massage they gift Jeanie that turns, unbeknownst to the bride, into a sexual gymnastics bout with a scene-stealing naked masseuse (Kumail Nanjiani); an Ecstasy-laced late-night romp on the resort’s horses; and an outing along the island’s hilly terrain during which Jeanie meets with an untimely accident that turns her face into something only the Elephant Man could identify with. If all of this sounds way over the top, it actually plays great, anchored by terrific comedic chemistry between the very funny Devine and the uber-sincere Efron, as good as he has ever been in one of these R-rated romps. Kendrick and particularly Plaza are perfectly cast as the “dates,” with each meeting Efron and Devine joke for joke in a movie that proves girls can get just as down and dirty as guys in this kind of studio summer comedy, which I would put definitely on a par with the similar (in some ways) Wedding Crashers.
I cannot tell you how many times I laughed out loud during this perfectly pitched, raunchy outing, nicely directed by first-time feature filmmaker Jake Syzmanski, who proves he knows his stuff right off the bat. Bottom line, it’s funny stuff. And a deserved shout-out to Beard, who is really game for anything, with a voice that sounds like she would be perfect for the next Smurfs movie. Of course, the Hawaiian locations — very similar if not exactly the same as those used in Forgetting Sarah Marshall — are nice on the eyes. Producers for the Chernin Entertainment production are Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Jonathan Levine. 20th Century Fox releases this perfect “date” movie Friday.
Do you plan to see Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates? Let us know what you think.