You know, I really never thought
ZAC EFRON WOULD BE A REASON TO GO WATCH A MOVIE.
Honestly, I grew up in the era of High School Musical and my hard-earned middle school cynicism told me that the entire cast of that would be a bunch of pretty Disney faces who wouldn’t amount to much. While I would later learn to be…you know…less dismissive of things that weren’t for me, it was seeming for a little while that history was bearing out execssively dismissive middle school me, especially as Zac Efron seemed to continually be unable to find a role that really worked for him.
But then everything changed when Zac Efron starred in Neighbors. From then on, the guy’s found a particular niche in the bro comedy, using his excessive good looks and seemingly legitimately sweet dumbness to actually elevate. He’s so excessively fun and likeable in films that need him to be, that he makes your feelings towards the movie warmer than they should be.
And so it is in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. This is a weirdly off-kilter film in a lot of ways, so grounded in people acting like assholes to various degrees and them all combining in a way to be a studio comedy and not It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. It’s Zac Efron (and Anna Kendrick, though her watchability is no surprise) who gives this comedy some grounding and makes it less like an exercise in Looney Persons shtick because
THIS IS THE MOST PURE COMEDY OF THE SUMMER.
First off, this has been a remarkably light summer for studio comedies. Even most of the major action films have seemed excessively straightlaced. There’s some weirdness and winking at most, but things have just seemed to take themselves way too seriously lately.
But even if there were a few more studio comedies, I don’t think anything would be quite so fully committed to the idea of comedy as this one. It’s just pure shtick, everyone in their mode and pitching it up to the rafters. Efron playing sweet and dumb at a 10, Kendrick is playing sweet and confused at a 10, Adam Devine is playing dumb and overconfident at 10, and Aubrey Plaza is playing conniving and snarky at fucking 12. There’s no pretending that there’s too much of a message here, or any dramatic pretensions besides what they have to do to make anyone pretend to care.
That attitude is what makes what’s funny work. A few really fantastic physical sequences make Mike and Dave a reasonably fun time. There’s a massage sequence with Silicon Valley‘s Kumail Najiani that will not only never leave your nightmares, but may be the single hardest I’ve laughed at anything this year that didn’t have Daniel Radcliffe farting.
But that’s what works, which is a shame because
A BIT TOO MUCH OF IT DOESN’T WORK.
I wanted to like this movie, honestly. It’s a lot of fun and pretty good towards its characters. But something is just off. For every big laugh, the movie has about 25 jokes that didn’t manage to get too much more than a smile out of me.
I think it’s a weird rhythm the film hits its jokes with. Something is just off, every line reading seems weirdly edited and doesn’t have the impact it should. It’s also why the dickish characters don’t seem to elicit the reaction that they could. You’re not so much laughing at them, it feels more like when you have to snicker at something that asshole at a party said. So much of the movie feels just out of reach of being enjoyable and just fine.
Yeah, not much to say. It’s fine, and there’s worse distractions. But I watched this two days ago and I already feel the particulars slipping away from me. I checked notes and I still don’t remember most of what I took notes on minus the Kumail Nanjiani scene.
For Zac Efron completists and people who are sexually attracted to Kumail Nanjiani only.