Friday, 19 August 2016

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates…the female equality rom-com we’ve been waiting for?!

I’m going to try keep this as short and interesting as possible. The other day I went to see Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates with my friend because the main cast are some of our absolute favourites for a cheesy, silly, stereotypical comedy. However I walked out having had a really good laugh while realising that I had probably just watched a modern day romantic comedy where the female characters are just as bad, just as sexual, just as openly represented as their male counterparts. So with a little bit of free time, I thought of writing about it. It’s not very coherent, but I wanted to write some things.


Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza are two actresses who have played some great female characters in film. Kendrick’s Pitch Perfect films are used by many use to suggest that all-female cast films do make money and are entertaining, while Plaza was praised for her character in The To Do List (2013) who is sexually liberated compared to a lot of stereotypical portrayals of teenage girls experiencing their sexuality. After the first trailer for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which appeared to centre around two girls who trick two guys into taking them on a free holiday by being ‘good girls’, the female representation seemed to be split between positive and negative. It seemed negative if you read the trailer as two women who are changing themselves for men, making people think ‘Why would Plaza and Kendrick, two very funny women who appear to care very much about gender equality, play two women who change themselves for men?’ On the other hand, two very silly men are giving away a free trip to Hawaii and two women are simply tricking them so they can have a holiday, which is not as negative a reading. This more positive view is definitely the way the film plays out and it is no surprise Kendrick and Plaza wanted to play these characters.

Throughout the film Alice (Kendrick) and Tatiana (Plaza) demonstrate frequently that they are open about their sexuality and just as immature, silly and self-obsessed as the guys. From the typical matching of couples, it seems Tatiana is simply straight but she does not confide herself into any sexual orientation. In a hilarious string of scenes, Mike witnesses his ‘date’ and his bisexual cousin Terry engaging in a sexual activity so that Tatiana can receive backstage tickets to see Rihanna. In another small scene, Tatiana and Alice lie in bed eating food searching for porn to watch their hotel room together. They openly discuss masturbating and having sex, something many teenage boys in teen flicks do but not usually girls.

The film is progressive not only through their open sexuality, but because Tatiana and Alice are as self-centred, immature and silly as Mike and Dave and (spoilers) all four of them are responsible for ruining the wedding (and all four of them are responsible for fixing the wedding). The film suggests that Mike and Dave are incompetent and are frequently ruining family events by partying too much. Now a stereotypical romantic comedy from the 90s, or even 00s, would have introduced Alice and Tatiana as being the antithesis of these boys. They would calm them down, look after them, and even care about their appearance enough so that they would look appropriate for their male counterparts. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates does something different; Alice and Tatiana are the exact same as Mike and Dave. They are lazy, party too much and incompetent too. They are not presented as being better or worse, but the same.

It seems only small, but it is freshening to see two female and two male characters equally represented. Representations in films are changing and of course Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is not the only film to do this, but it is also a very funny, very crude, romantic comedy that I believe has an equal representation of gender. It’s far from perfect (the representation of bisexual cousin Terry for example is quite stereotypical), but it’s positive in many other ways.

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