By BRIAN BOHNERT
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Summer wouldn’t be summer without a raunchy comedy drunkenly streaking its way into theaters. And that’s exactly what we get with director Jake Szymanski’s feature film debut, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.”
The film’s title leaves little to the imagination as far as the plot. Two hard-partying, idiot brothers, Mike and Dave Stangle (Adam Devine and Zac Efron), place an online ad to find “nice girls” to take to their little sister’s exotic Hawaiian wedding.
What they get are two uncontrollable female versions of themselves in the form of hot messes, Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza). And what comes next is a hilarious attempt by the two rowdy waitresses to do their best “good girl” impressions in order to win a free vacation.
At first glance, the outrageous story behind “Mike and Dave” doesn’t exactly seem like something “based on a true story.” But it is … sort of.
The film is based on a book written by the real-life Stangle brothers after their search for the perfect dates went viral.
Half of the fun with “Mike and Dave” is watching characters Alice and Tatiana balance their respective alter egos of Wall Street insider and angel-faced school teacher with their love of alcohol-fueled debauchery.
One minute, Alice and Tatiana are the perfect mix of polite and charming while entertaining the boys’ parents, and the next they’re swimming in bottles of liquor and various recreational drugs.
Where Efron (“Neighbors”) and Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect”) clearly have the most big-screen experience of the foursome, TV-to-film crossover stars Devine (“Workaholics”) and Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) possess the greatest comedic chops.
With his goofy smirk and wacky, Jack Black-esque antics, Devine finally has an opportunity to showcase the true strength of his physical comedy. His energy level is dialed up to 1,000 in “Mike and Dave” as he darts from scene to scene like a dog tirelessly chasing a bacon-covered car.
The 32-year-old comedian literally throws his body into many of the film’s funniest sequences, including an outrageous steam room brawl with his bisexual on-screen cousin, Terry (Alice Wetterlund), as they duke it out for Tatiana’s honor.
Plaza, the true show stealer, is a sassy, vulgar tornado who fires off witty zingers every few seconds she’s on screen. Tatiana is a far cry from Plaza’s cynical, uninterested character April Ludgate on “Parks and Rec,” but the actress does manage to incorporate the stellar, deadpan-style comedy she’s known for.
Efron doesn’t reach the insane level of lovable, immature doofus as he does in each of the “Neighbors” films, but he’s still very funny.
Kendrick is eerily believable as the ditsy Alice, whose own emotional baggage challenges her ability to remember who she’s pretending to be.
In one laugh-out-loud sequence, Alice provides a ridiculous explanation for what a hedge fund manager does by simply saying they “hedge funds” — and the Stangle boys buy it.
But despite the strength at cast, writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien do seem lose a step in their follow up to “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.” The screenplay is a bit too derivative of every other modern-era comedy, complete with the predictable third-act conflict that (temporarily) pulls the brothers apart before they — also predictably — come back together.
Anyone who has seen any comedy of the last two decades will find little originality in “Mike and Dave.” It’s just the same recycled story, but with different — albeit insanely talented — players.
Amidst a sea of superhero beatdowns and sci-fi blockbusters, “Mike and Dave” is not a contender for movie of the year. But if you’re looking for an average summer comedy with a few easy laughs and NSFW moments, look no further.
Verdict: 3 stars