Movie Review: “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”

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That’s quite the big screen image that Aubrey Plaza has created for herself.

She lowers her gaze, opens her inviting mouth and the filthiest, unfiltered thoughts pour out. A red blooded male finds himself wondering what pick-up line might work, if he ever gets the chance to deliver one.

Plaza strides through “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” like she owns it, the very definition of post-Kardashian feminism, taking stock of everything in the Hawaiian resort hotel room she’s managed to tease her way into.

“I can make a bong outta this,” she opines, picking up an apple, “I can make a bong outta this,” grabbing another piece of fruit.

She makes you think the dirtiest thoughts, like, “Did her mama teach her to sit like that, all spread-eagled and what not?”

Plaza dominates “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” playing another version of the vamp that’s been her comfort zone in films since, oh, “The To Do List.” It might have been more of a surprise to make sweet little Anna Kendrick the streetwise man-eater and Plaza the damaged drunk who never got over being stood-up at the altar by a groom who realized he was gay in mid-ceremony (LONG after we’ve figured that out). But Plaza’s on-the-nose casting as tarty Tatiana pays off, and how.

It might be called “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” but the “out of control” siblings and liquor distributors played by Zac Efron and Adam Devine take a back seat whenever Plaza prances on camera. They’re putty in her hands, as are we.

Mike and Dave are infamous in their family for getting hammered, getting hold of any handy female and wrecking family parties, gatherings and weddings. Dad (Steven Root, properly profane and pissed-off) has had enough. Their baby sister, Jeannie, played with a daffy sweetness and Tweety Bird voice by Sugar Lyn Beard, is getting married.

And in the interest of keeping the boys from “screwing up” this pricey fly-to-Hawaii wedding, they have to bring wedding dates, “nice girls.” Which is why the idiots post their search online. Talk show troublemaker Wendy Williams puts them on her show. Which is how Tatiana and her wounded, fellow-waitress pal Alice (Kendrick) pass themselves off as “nice” and entice the guys into making the invitation. “Girls About to Go Wild” is closer to the mark.

Just enough mayhem ensues to make this scruffy, hard-R rated comedy pay off pretty much the minute the quartet land in the islands. Because Mike is smitten with Alice, Alice keeps having flashbacks to her own disastrous wedding (it’s recorded on her phone) and drunkenly tries to ensure that Jeannie has the wedding Alice never did.

And the dorky Dave, whom Devine plays in a naked imitation of Jack Black’s voice, posture and shtick, is INTO Tatiana. And Tatiana isn’t having it. Not that she’s letting Dave know, because she and Alice NEED this vacation.

The movie reaches beyond “Wedding Crashers” in raw dog terms. But director Jake Szymanski, an “SNL” vet making his feature comedy debut, only occasionally lets things achieve “Hangover” level out-of-control.

The money scene? Poor Jeannie needs a massage after assorted mishaps leading up to the nuptials. Alice bribes the masseuse, aptly named Keanu (Kumail Nanjiani) to give her a happy ending. And how.

The picture flails about in predictable-debacle land with Efron doing another version of his shirtless frat boy bit as Mike. Devine (“Modern Family”) just takes money under Jack Black pretenses, which is all he needs to do.

But the girls go wild and they make “Mike and Dave” as nasty as they wanna be, and a pleasantly pervy surprise of a summer comedy.

2half-star6

MPAA Rating:R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity

Cast: Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, Devine, Steven Root, Sugar Lyn Beard
Credits: Directed by Jake Szymanski, script by Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien. A 20th Century Fox release.

Running time: 1:38

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