Mike and Dave Don’t Need Wedding Dates, but Can If They Want To —

The surprisingly feminist underpinnings of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

I had the pleasure of working with Mike Stangle for approximately one day. We were both new hires at a shitty cocktail bar in Alphabet City. We were quite a sight behind the bar together, because he is absolutely the tallest person i’ve ever met, and I’m absolutely the shortest person you will ever meet. He quit said shitty cocktail bar after only a handful of shifts, but he did me a huge solid by covering me so I could take off for Pride. We stayed in touch for a while longer, and I once explained to him how lesbian sex works. He was curious, as any dude in his mid-twenties would be, but respectful. The same can be said for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, the movie that recently came out based on his life story.

Mike and his brother Dave (who I have never met) needed wedding dates. So they took to the internet, became a sensation, and sold the rights for a movie based on a book based on their life. The ensuing film, starring Zac Efron as Dave and Adam Devine as my one-time coworker, could have been more of a sausage party than the upcoming animated feature Sausage Party. From the trailer, it could easily be pitched as: two bros are such bros that they often find themselves in a bro-load of trouble (heh), until their wedding dates, two hard-partying lady-bros, out-bro them all. But, surprisingly, Mike and Dave (and their dates, Alice and Tatiana, played by Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) come together for one of the most forward-thinking physical comedies in recent memory.

For starters, Mike and Dave are hardly the star of their own movie — they are easily overshadowed by their dates, whose friendship is one of the more rock-solid female relationships currently on screen. Friends since childhood, Alice and Tatiana never falter in their friendship, and never fight over the titular characters (heh, titular — maybe i’m the bro). They’re supportive, and would literally follow each other anywhere, whether it be down the aisle or to Hawaii. Furthermore, Alice and Tatiana are ‘bad girls’ — and that’s okay. Though they agree by the end of the film to curtail some of their wilder shenanigans, they are never punished for being who they are: sexually liberated single women.

Wedding Dates is also surprisingly queer. Plaza, who recently portrayed a gay woman in Addicted to Fresno, and who just came out as bisexual herself, has a brief tryst with Cousin Terry (Alice Wetterlund), a successful bisexual woman who serves as Mike’s biggest competition with the ladies. Terry’s a nemesis, for sure, but not because of her sexuality. She’s Mike’s equal in every way, enough so that she can outpace him, both in life and in love. Plaza’s Tatiana has no qualms about “finger-diddling” Cousin Terry (though she might have done it for the wrong reasons, IE tickets to see Rihanna), and treats sex with her the same way (casually) as she treats sex with Mike later in the film.

For a movie with the word “dates” in the title, Mike and Dave is surprisingly short on romance, focusing instead on Alice and Tatiana’s friendship, and The Stangle Brothers’ relationship with each other. Maybe they end up together, maybe they don’t — that’s beside the point. The point is that four individuals learn and grow, even if they do get hammered and laid in the process.

Mike and Dave don’t need wedding dates, nor do Alice, Tatiana, or even Cousin Terry. But if they want them, they can have them. It’s about choice. And if you’re choosing between comedies this summer, Mike and Dave isn’t a bad bet.