Wolf in sheep's clothing

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates gives women real teeth

Kim Taylor-Foster


Kim Taylor-Foster

Wolf in sheep's clothing

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (15)
Running time 1hr 38min
Rating ***

MIKE and Dave Need Wedding Dates; on the face of it, another bro comedy relying on coarse humour and stereotypes. But this wolf in sheep’s clothing actually has teeth – it’s far more subversive than the trailers suggest.

Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are brothers who keep each other tethered to their teenage mentalities, despite being some way into their 20s. Having wreaked havoc across a string of family occasions – weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, and presumably funerals too – they’re oblivious to the fact their antics have been anything other than immense fun. But their long-suffering parents have had enough. With their sister’s wedding around the corner, the family sits them down to insist that this time they stop hitting on girls and calm the heck down – by bringing dates to the Hawaii wedding.

Loosely based on something that actually happened, the brothers put out an ad calling out for girls interested in coming to the wedding, all expenses paid. When the ad goes viral and they’re invited to appear on a talk show, good-time girl friends Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) hatch a plan to get themselves picked. It works, but what ensues is something that rapidly shoots off the scale – could these two be even more troublesome than Mike and Dave?

The four combined are a recipe for disaster but it could also be the catalyst for a seismic shift in not just their thinking, but everyone else’s too. Anna Kendrick continues to prove herself an important cog in the Hollywood machine, defying  stereotypes and exercising her right to versatility. Smart and talented, she picks her roles wisely. As Alice, a waitress nursing a broken heart having been jilted at the altar, she’s one half of a rudderless twosome enabling each other as they remain blissfully unaware they’re stuck in a rut. Alice is also funny and independent, and she and counterpart Tatiana are women allowed to act as men are. They enjoy sex on their own terms and will happily objectify men in the same way that women are. Crucially, though, they’re not punished for it or put in their place, or forced to surrender to a patriarchal ideal of womanhood – and that’s a big step forward in Hollywood comedy in the wake of the groundbreaking Bridesmaids.

What’s more, these aren’t the only women in the film given free rein to behave how they like while remaining unpunished. There’s Terry (Alice Wetterlund), the cousin – another strong woman – and Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard), the sister who rejects the Hangover-style, sensible, little-woman-at-home role to embrace a more liberated side and be celebrated for it.

You might well read other reviews criticising the film for reducing women characters to the same level as the film’s ‘idiotic’ men. But it’s important and refreshing to portray women in as many different ways as possible on screen – and not just as the moral centre. People love The Hangover and the puerile antics of those characters – why not give the women characters the same chance to be found hilarious, without chastising them for it?

Delightfully dissident, the film shines a light on the tendency of Hollywood to put women into categories; objectifying some while seeing others as ‘pure’ and ‘innocent’ wives, mothers and sisters. Both brothers at different times are grossed out by witnessing their sister in ‘non-sisterly’ situations – fully naked at one stage, and at another in the throes of ecstasy on a massage table.

Easy to knock, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is better than you might think. It’s not as good as Step Brothers but it’s better than Dude, Where’s My Car?, Wedding Crashers and Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. Done no favours by its marketing, if this sort of thing is normally your sort of thing, it’s worth 98 minutes of your time.

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