Wedding dates steal the show

This movie starring (from left) Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, Adam DeVine and Zac Efron is a dating disaster.
This movie starring (from left) Aubrey Plaza, Anna Kendrick, Adam DeVine and Zac Efron is a dating disaster.PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX



99 minutes/Opens tomorrow/ 2.5 stars

The story: When bride-to-be Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) demands that her hard-partying brothers Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron) take along respectable dates to her Hawaii wedding, the boys turn to social media for help. A pair of seemingly sweet girls answer their call in exchange for a free holiday, but Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) soon turn out to be more trouble than expected.

What is it with Hollywood's obsession with making films about people behaving badly at weddings? Is it because of the free-flow alcohol or the heightened emotions?

Either way, this just feels like a mash-up of older frat-boy wedding comedies such as Wedding Crashers (2005) and The Groomsmen (2006), where guests party a little too hard - only that it is updated for the millennial crowd.

So, in between the crude sex jokes and scenes of drunken shenanigans typical of these films, you also have Mike and Dave constantly talking about things such as viral videos, hashtags and Rihanna.

Despite all the trendy pop culture references, the story here is about as memorable as a Snapchat video (which is not very).

The only thing worth mentioning are the strong performances - not so much by DeVine and Efron, but the actresses playing their wedding dates.

Leading ladies Kendrick and Plaza are great in their roles as the deceptively sweet friends, Alice and Tatiana, outsmarting and out-grossing the boys in every way.

Plaza, in particular, who is arguably the queen of deadpan, gives it her all here, although her character feels like a clone of her uber- sarcastic role as April Ludgate on TV comedy Parks And Recreation (2009 to 2015).

There is nothing new about women being naughty in films, of course. It has been the feature of every crude comedy since the trend kickstarted with Bridesmaids (2011), yet another movie about people with little manners at weddings.

But beyond their wild ways, the two women here also convey a sense of sadness and show the deeper insecurities of their characters.

For elevating this film to something more realistic, even for a little while, that deserves a toast.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2016, with the headline 'Wedding dates steal the show'. Print Edition | Subscribe