Outtakes: ‘Mike and Dave’ wrap Oahu visit
BY MIKE GORDON / firstname.lastname@example.org
The 20th Century Fox comedy “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” wrapped last week after two months of filming on Oahu.
The movie, which was shot on the North Shore and at downtown Honolulu locations, is based on the true story of Mike and Dave Stangle, brothers from Albany, N.Y., who sought dates for a family wedding in 2013 by posting an ad on Craigslist. When the ad went viral, the brothers wound up being interviewed on “Today,” “Good Morning America” and “Anderson Cooper.”
Although the real wedding was in Cape Cod, the filmmakers wanted their version of the story in Hawaii, explained executive producer David Ready, as he sat on a folding chair outside Grondin, the French-Latin restaurant on Hotel Street. The production closed down the restaurant and filled it with monitors, cables and laptops while shooting a scene in a nearby room of the building. (For their part, the Grondin chefs filled the restaurant with the enticing aroma of shrimp stock.)
The Stangle brothers — who visited the set in June and have a cameo — are the heart of the story.
“These are two guys who mean well but tend to get into trouble,” said Ready, who is also a senior vice president at Chernin Entertainment, which conceived the film. “Their parents have an intervention because of their antics and say this time you are not going to screw up our family event. You are not going to have the fireworks go wrong. You are not going to hit on the bridesmaids. You are going to bring respectable, nice girls and you’re going to be adults.”
That’s where the movie dives into its comic moments, which by some accounts, pale in comparison to the real brothers.
“They are over the top,” Ready said. “One of their goals is that at the end of their lives, they want their bank account to be absolutely empty. They want to be sure they lived every second of it.”
Zac Efron (“Neighbors”) plays Dave and Adam DeVine (“Pitch Perfect”) portrays Mike. DeVine’s “Pitch Perfect” co-star Anna Kendrick plays Alice, and Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) is Tatiana.
Director Jake Szymanski, known mostly for his work on the Emmy-winning comedy website “Funny or Die,” makes his feature film debut with “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” Szymanski’s background is in improv comedy, and he gave his actors the freedom to put their own spin on a scene, Ready said. He would film the scene as written, then let them improvise as the cameras rolled 20 to 30 minutes straight.
Ready said the filmmakers wanted to present Hawaii in a diverse, culturally sensitive way. In late May, as “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” readied production, the controversy over Cameron Crowe’s “Aloha” underscored the difficulties involved.
Crowe’s movie, which shot in Hawaii last year, generated howls of protest from people who felt the title was disrespectful of Hawaiian culture and that its cast was too white.
“Honestly, from the very beginning we were always thinking that we wanted a movie that was diverse and not a whitewashed movie,” Ready said. “It was a nice kick in the butt to say you can always do better in terms of the way you cast the movie and present it to the world.”
Ready praised Hawaii casting director Katie Doyle for bringing diversity onto the set. Doyle found people for 25 speaking parts and hundreds of background extras, covering a wide array of ethnicities in the process.
“The movie is more set in Hawaii than about Hawaii, but we tried to include as much Hawaiian elements as possible,” Ready said. “We have great music from Hawaii. We cast a bunch of Hawaiians in the film. Whether we got it right is another question.”
“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is expected in theaters in July 2016.
Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.