You know you’re in for a good time when you miss half the jokes in a movie because the audience is laughing so much. So it was in this raunchy, racy, very funny comedy from the guys that wrote the two Neighbors movies that, quite coincidentally, both star Zac Efron.
This “based on a true story… almost” begins with two manic man-child’s: the two liquor salesman slacker brothers, Mike and David Stangle (Adam DeVine and Zac Efron) who create chaos and total bedlam at any family outing they attend, and their exasperated parents (Stephen Root and Stephanie Faracy) can back it up with video proof. So, they lay down the law; find nice, good-girl dates for their sisters wedding in Hawaii… or else! So what do the guys do? Take out an ad on Craig’s List! Well, that ad goes SO viral that talk show host Wendy Williams has them on as guests and because of this, they meet a lot of girls! I mean, a LOT of girls!
Meet recently fired drunk/slacker BFF chicks Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza) who are 180 degrees opposite from being nice girls, but to go to Hawaii with these two knuckleheads, they’ll pretend to be anything. After Tatiana fakes an injury and gets ‘saved’ by Mike, the guys take their ‘respectable’ dates to the islands for their sister Jeanine’s (Sugar Lyn Beard–very funny) wedding to Eric (Sam Richardson). But it’s clear that this weekend is going to be anything but normal. The girls just want to party and the guys just want to practice that ancient Hawaiian custom, comeonIwannalayu.
Disaster strikes early when a hilarious ATV accident leaves Jeanine “looking like burn-victim Barbie”, but it doesn’t stop there. More wacky hijinks ensue when Mike’s graphic bi-cousin Terry (Alice Wetterlund) shows up to cause mischief and wastes no time going after Tatiana. Alice, meanwhile, feels bad about Jeanine and buys her a special (wink wink nudge nudge) ‘happy’ massage with oiled-up masseuse Keanu (Kumail Nanjiani), which is one of the funniest moments in the film.
There’s a natural spark that lights up between Dave and Alice, as she reveals her secret about being jilted and humiliated at the altar herself, a fact that keeps her from falling for this ‘nice guy’. On the flip side, Mike can’t get to first base with Tatiana, who can’t stand him, mostly because she sees too much of herself in him. The wedding rehearsal dinner goes sideways when Alice and Jeanine decide to take Ecstasy and get naked, while Mike and Dave duke it out over their petty differences. The wedding is called off, the boys are blamed (again), the girls feel bad about their actions, and the parents are fuming.
Can the Stangle brothers get their act together and save the day with the help of their dates and then find true romance and happiness afterwards? Gee, what do YOU think? Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien certainly know how to write comedy, even if it’s low brow and utterly ridiculous. But that’s okay, since you have the great pairing of Efron/Kendrick and DeVine/Plaza and vice-versa. They take this simple plot and make it better with their non-stop comical banter that drives the movie. And you can tell they’re having a great time; just wait for the end credit outtakes to see how much.
This also marks the directorial debut of Jake Szymanski who previously just did online shorts for Funny or Die.com segments and some SNL features. Here, he shows some real promise in his skill, although he loses focus with some of his background players and larger scenes. Reminiscent of Animal House and American Pie, the racy scenes are nicely tendered with some sweet moments with Efron and Kendrick that are genuinely touching, but it’s the cast as a whole that really sells this movie with unpredictable moments that come out of nowhere with great big laughs that aren’t forced or disingenuous. You hear me talkin’ to ya, Ghostbusters?
Moon Over Miami (1941)
Take two crazy broke girls and put them on the prowl for a potential millionaire husbands-to-be, throw in some singin’ & dancin’, and you have this musical screwball comedy from the 40’s with Americas pin-up girl, Betty Grable and the Tin Man himself, Jack Haley.
We start off with two desperate Texas drive-in carhops named Kay and Barbara Latimer (Betty Grable and Carole Landis) with their aunt Susan (Charlotte Greenwood) who’s the cook. When an inheritance only comes to $4,000 after taxes and fees, the sisters decided on a crazy plan: Kay will hunt down and marry a millionaire by posing as a rich heiress. So, off they go to a posh Miami resort, The Flamingo Hotel, to hook a rich man; Kay as the heiress, Barbara as her secretary, and Susan as her maid. What could possibly go wrong?
They meet bartender Jack O’Hara (Jack Haley), who hates gold-diggers and tells her about rich playboy Jeffrey Boulton II (Robert Cummings). Bingo! Kay sets her sights on him as he’s a bit of a doofus, but she also gets the amorous attention of handsome guy Phil O’Neil (Don Ameche) who’s a bit a brutish lout, so naturally, she falls for him instead. Since the guys are best friends, what happens is a quirky three-some dating where Phil dates her one day, but Jeff grabs her the next day; all the while Kay loving the attention. Barbara, on the other hand, pines for Jeffrey, telling him he’s more than just a dim-wit socialite.
But when the truth comes out that Phil is just as broke as Kay, she switches tactics and goes for Jeff (even though she secretly loves Phil) and gets him to ask for her hand in marriage! Things are going okay until Jack learns the truth about the girls gold-digging plans and plans to expose them to Jeff unless he is convinced Kay really loves Jeff, but when Phil arrives for the big pre-marriage party, Kay confesses her true feelings.
And being this is a 1941 film, people burst into singing and dancing for no particular reason, other than the fact they can… and they do. A lot. Especially lovely Betty Grable, who really shows off her dance moves with those killer legs of hers. Five writers adapted the play by Stephen Powys into this very silly and dreadfully hokey movie that, for 1941, was called “high-comedy”. The laughable ending is straight outta the deus ex machina playbook, where everyone gets their happy ending. And you couldn’t ask for a better director for this kind of material than prolific Walter Lang, who cranked out nearly 100 movies in his lifetime.