You take a gamble with silly comedies like this one most of the time. They can end up like Dirty Grandpa (pretty much universally despised by critics though I liked it) or something like Neighbors (which, while not a masterpiece, was extremely entertaining and had a funny cast). This one features Zac Efron, who coincidentally was in the latter film trying out his comedic chops on another raunchy summer comedy but this time I can safely say it was a big hit and a huge crowd-pleaser for the people in attendance at the theatre.
We start off with the plot which is actually based on two real-life brothers named Mike (Adam DeVine) and Dave (Zac Efron), who pretty much ruin any family gathering they attend due to their screwball antics and knack of hitting on every woman in attendance. Finally, their father (Stephen Root) is at his wit’s end and lays down the final straw for the boys – find two real dates for their sister’s wedding or don’t show up at all. Meanwhile, Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) is trying to help her friend Alice (Anna Kendrick) recover from a walk-out at the altar by providing plenty of booze and drugs but they fall down on their luck when they lose both of their jobs. Cue the appearance on The Wendy Williams Show in an attempt to find wedding dates and the ladies con their way into the gig. However, when everyone shows up in Hawaii for the weekend-long wedding, hilarity ensues.
This is a comedy that benefits from the comic timing of its performers and we certainly have that with all four leads here. Zac Efron and Adam DeVine play wonderfully off each other and even though both do and say very funny things, the former is definitely more of the straight man while DeVine is a zany off-the-wall character that just does and says whatever is on his mind. Efron has proven to be solid in these types of roles and has played them in most comedies while Adam DeVine is a real find. I’m aware of his appearances in Pitch Perfect but his comedic timing in this film is always on point. In the hands of a lesser actor, the performance could’ve ended up obnoxious or annoying but he knows how to reign it in at times and when to go full-tilt at others. We also have Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick as the two girls in question with Anna playing more of the straight character but only barely. I’ve never gotten to see her just unwind in a comedy or a movie in general so it was nice to see some of her true personality shine (seriously: read the girl’s Twitter – she’s hilarious!) Plaza is also very funny especially in any scene where she is attempting to be overtly sexual. I enjoyed two small appearances from Stephen Root and Kumail Nanjiani as the father and a “masseuse,” respectively. Root gets good laughs from his facial reactions alone while Kumail’s deadpan style always works in these small appearances.
So is it funny? Hell yes it is! All four leads are a riot and the banter between them provides for some great moments. While I would say that the interplay between Efron and Kendrick is more cute than funny, they do get some good moments together particularly late in the film when she and Efron’s sister decide to get a little high and… well, you’ll see. Plaza and DeVine are very funny together as she continues to lead him on as his confidence grows. Normally this would make her a detestable character; however, Plaza is a good actress and there is one scene in particular in which she goes to great lengths to make her friend happy (hint: it takes place in the steam room) that gives you the sense that she’s not one-dimensional and that she cares about some of the people around her deep down. There are some funny set pieces and even though we’ve all seen the scene in the trailer involving the ATV to the face, it is executed so well and garners so many laughs that it still caught me by surprise.
While it may lack a tiny bit of originality in its plot, it at least places the film in a setting we don’t always get to see in that of native Hawaii. It was refreshing much like when The Rundown was released and wasn’t just some shoot-’em-up action flick in the big city. It’s nice to see the filmmakers use the scenery well too and there are some legitimately beautiful shots of the island.
I honestly don’t understand the “mixed reviews” because quite frankly this may be my favourite comedy of 2016 thus far.
* (Brutal; the worst rating)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)