Nobody could blame Zac Efron for scuffing up his squeaky-clean High School Musical image, but he's better off in the long run with ambitious failures like The Paperboy and At Any Price than frat-smut comedies like Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (R), his third this year.
Once again, Efron plays party boy Dave Stangle, sweeter deep down inside than his outer idiot suggests. Same goes for brother Mike (Adam Devine), except his idiot shell is thicker. Their younger sister (Sugar Lyn Beard, a standout) is getting married and doesn't want them trashing the wedding with one of their legendary pranks. Either bring dates and stay respectable, or don't go.
Enter Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza), answering the boys' Craigslist ad. They'll pose as respectable for the free Hawaii trip and, of course, throw the wedding into chaos. Kendrick should feel relieved that she's so unconvincing as a skank; perhaps Plaza should worry.
Little about Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates sets it apart from Efron's earlier 2016 flops Dirty Grandpa and a sequel to Neighbors, the fluke that sent Efron on this raunchy road. This one is just another drive-by embarrassment. D
Classical music aficionados may enjoy The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (PG-13), directed by Morgan Neville, an Oscar winner for 20 Feet From Stardom.
The master cellist leads a unique cultural exchange among international musicians, playing indigenous instruments.
"The Music of Strangers isn't a concert documentary; outside of its opening and closing credits, there are few uncut filmed performances, and those sequences are shot with a constantly moving camera that can be at times exasperating," Kenji Fujishima opined at SlantMagazine.com. "Director Morgan Neville's interest lies more in exploring the lives of some of the musicians involved … ultimately put in the service of testifying to the empowering cultural potential of the Silk Road Project."
Neville's documentary opens Friday at Tampa Theatre and Sundial 19 in St. Petersburg.
Don't miss Sunday's Latitudes section, featuring a cover story interview with Tampa's Robert Mazur, whose memoirs sourced the true crime drama The Infiltrator, opening July 13 nationwide.
Mazur, 65, fascinates in conversation, coolly detailing an undercover life led among mobsters for five years, collecting information used to bring down Pablo Escobar's drug cartel money laundering.
Emmy and Tony winner Bryan Cranston, below, plays Mazur in the movie. In hindsight, Mazur may be a better actor, staying alive when one behavioral slip could be fatal.
"These are very serious people," Mazur said during a 90-minute interview. "They run, in their view, a business, making cost-benefit decisions the way Fortune 500 companies do. … They expect you to be very serious, under control. They're putting their lives and fortunes in your hands.
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"People who do reckless things, taking drugs, getting drunk, that kind of stuff, are liabilities. I've been in meetings where people demonstrated those characteristics, and after they left the room, the order was given that they be killed."
Read more Thursday at tampabay.com/movies.
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 The Secret Life of Pets: Toy Story with animals, and nearly as much magic.
2 Swiss Army Man: The heartwarming tale of a man (Paul Dano) and his corpse (Daniel Radcliffe).
3 Finding Dory: Good sequel to a great movie, and that's okay.
4 Central Intelligence: Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make a great comedy team.
5 The BFG: Mark Rylance's motion-capture performance is awards bait.
(Dates subject to change)
July 13: The Infiltrator
July 15: Ghostbusters
July 22: Star Trek Beyond; Ice Age: Collision Course; Lights Out; Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
July 27: Nerve
July 29: Jason Bourne; Bad Moms; Cafe Society
Aug. 5: The Founder; Suicide Squad; Nine Lives
Aug. 12: Sausage Party; Pete's Dragon; Florence Foster Jenkins
Aug. 19: Ben-Hur; War Dogs; Collide; The Space Between Us; Kubo and the Two Strings
Aug. 26: Mechanic: Resurrection; Don't Breathe