Sunday, July 10, 2016

Rapid Reviews: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and The Purge: Election Year

The summer blockbuster season is known for its action-packed catalog filled with superhero sequels and eye-popping special effects. Yet, the summer time also stands as a platform for many of the year's funniest comedy films. And although I held a little hope that Jake Szymanski's debut major motion picture Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates would be that standout comedy release, unfortunately it's nothing more than a combination of poor acting and unnecessary amounts of vulgarity.

After a pair of hard-partying brothers, Mike and Dave (Adam Devine and Zac Efron), are forced to avoid going stag to their sister's upcoming wedding in Hawaii, their search for dates becomes a viral sensation. Meanwhile, low-life alcoholics and recently unemployed roommates, Tatiana and Alice (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick), catch wind of the story and put on their most respectable faces in hopes of cashing in on a free trip. While their deceptive plans work, perhaps these four clueless idiots are exactly what's needed to make the bride's perfect wedding come to life.

For starters, there are sporadic laughs scattered all throughout the film. However, the humor isn't nearly consistent enough to outshine a poor storyline and unusually inadequate acting from some young talents I've praised in the passed. I had a difficult time figuring out if these shortcomings were due to misguided direction or weak characters. Either way, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a long-winded 95 minutes that fails to win over audiences with dimwitted humor and enough f-bombs to put Scarface to shame. Just to be clear, the film isn't unbearable but it's wildly mediocre. So if you're on the lookout for this summer's breakout comedy feature, I suggest you keep looking.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C

It's difficult to deny the clever premise behind James DeMonaco's horror franchise, The Purge. And following a bitterly disappointing debut in 2013, DeMonaco rebounded nicely with his Anarchy sequel. However, with the recent release of the series' third installment, Election Year, it's obvious that the franchise has taken a step backwards.

Former police sergeant Barnes (Frank Grillo) has become the head of security for politician Senator Charlie Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who promises to eliminate the purge if elected. And with the deadly holiday becoming a direct target on the poor, her chances of winning continue to grow as the election approaches. Therefore, the New Founding Fathers of America must use the upcoming purge holiday to execute the senator and eliminate the threat of her campaign.

Election Year continues to expand on DeMonaco's creative idea with a natural progression to the franchise's storyline. Yet, this latest installment misses greatly with a long list of new characters that are never properly developed. And by the time the film wraps up, there's a huge disconnect between the audience and these characters. Hence, Election Year feels like a cheapened version of its previous effort, and a lackluster continuation of the series. Although the finale leaves it wide open to take the saga even further, faith in DeMonaco's franchise seems to be diminishing.

Stars: 1 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: C-

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