“Ingrid Goes West”

Aubrey Plaza needs more dramatic work. #Ingridgoeswest.

Plaza plays Instagram stalker, Ingrid. After a stint at a mental hospital, Ingrid becomes obsessed with Instagram model Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) and moves to Los Angeles, stalking Taylor in the process. They become friends (Taylor’s oblivious to Ingrid’s behavior), but what happens when Taylor’s punk brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) enters the picture? Also, who’s really the villain?

Ingrid Goes West starts as a sharp, darkly funny satire. With its jabs at hipster culture and avocado toast, I found a few good laughs. I also was blown away by Plaza’s brave performance as Ingrid. She’s funny, scary, sad, and brutally honest.

Ingrid is a complex character ; an unhinged person who wants what we all want – happiness. Can we blame her for leaving behind her old life for a better one in California? Despite the wrong reasons, no.

Olsen also turns in another great performance this year (check out her work in Wind River). As Taylor, Olsen plays the phony celebrity gracefully. Taylor’s friendship with Ingrid is one-sided and we can see that Taylor only hangs out with her for her own benefit. We root for Ingrid since she’s too delusional to see Taylor’s true colors.

The satirical edge fades in the second half as Ingrid Goes West turns into a standard romantic comedy. Give me less of Ingrid’s relationship with the Batman fanboy Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and more of the psycho thriller/dark comedy moments. Dan starts as a sweet, quirky love interest, but after the millionth Batman Forever reference, I got bored of their romance.

Ingrid Goes West briefly returns to its dark roots in the final act with a strong message on social media and loneliness. It’s just unfortunate that it went off the rails in its uneven second act. Regardless, I still recommend Ingrid Goes West for Plaza and Olsen alone.

Grade: B-

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“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”

It’s that time of year, folks! The time for the annual R-rated summer comedy. “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is this summer’s crowd-pleasing raunch fest.

Adam DeVine and Zac Efron are the titular characters, Mike and Dave, and these two are the guys you don’t want at your party. They arrive, energize the party, and ruin it with their shenanigans. Their parents are fed up and tell them they aren’t invited to their sister’s wedding, unless they bring dates to keep them civilized.

Meet the hot messes, unapologetic mean girl Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) and recently single Alice (Anna Kendrick). When they learn of the boys’ dilemma, they pretend to be “respectable as fuck” to get a free Hawaii trip out of the boys. And then of course, the slapstick high-jinx ensue.

SPOILER ALERT (Well, if you consider formulaic spoilers)!

“Mike and Dave” may not be the most refreshing comedy released, but it was a lot better than the trailer let on. The trailer sells us that the boys will figure out the girls’ scheme, the girls will fall for the boys, and in the end, they’ll end up together while growing up. Yep, that’s pretty much it!

However, the four stars have winning chemistry and their comedic timing is occasionally near-perfect. Between DeVine delivering awkward phrases followed with their blunt meanings, Efron parodying the “What’s in the box” scene from “Se7en”, and Plaza  and Kendrick intentionally and unintentionally causing chaos, I was laughing throughout the movie.

The other thing that surprised me about “Mike and Dave” is that the four leads were more human than expected. We see Dave wants to be more independent, Alice is trying to get over an ugly breakup, and Tatiana is doing bad deeds to cheer up Alice. Mike is the only one who feels antagonistic, but even he stops being a jackass by the second half.

“Mike and Dave” isn’t a special comedy due to the formula and some scenes that are more drawn out than a Judd Apatow movie, but it’s still a good date movie or a hangout movie. Check it out!

Grade: B