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As the hard-partying title characters of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Zac Efron and Adam Devine play two brothers who decide to use a Craigslist ad to find respectable dates to take to their sister’s Hawaii wedding.
The premise is just ridiculous enough for a raunchy comedy, but it turns out the tale wasn’t invented by spit-balling comedy writers — it actually was inspired by the true-life story of brothers Mike and Dave Stangle, who became viral sensations after posting a hilarious ad on Craigslist looking for wedding dates. The Fox and Chernin Entertainment movie, which stars Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick as their troublemaking wedding dates, hits theaters on July 8.
The Stangles, who are from Albany, N.Y., didn’t just end up with wedding dates. They also landed book and film deals because of an unexpected CAA connection — a friend of theirs, Jay Barbeau, who was a trainee at the agency (and even slept on the Stangles‘ couch when he first moved to New York). After the Stangle brothers’ ad went viral in 2013 and they began to get media attention, Barbeau, who now works in CAA’s sports department, brought their story to the attention of fellow CAA agents Cait Hoyt and Michelle Weiner.
“It was clear that they were great characters and this was great story fodder,” says Weiner of her first reaction to the duo’s Craigslist ad. She then spoke to them over the phone: “They lived up to the hype. They were smart and they were funny. They had all of the comedy and the heart that you need for the start of a great story.”
CAA helped the Stangles sell their life rights in a seven-figure deal deal with Fox for a film that would be inspired by their story. Soon after, CAA also helped the Stangles ink a book deal with Gallery, a Simon & Schuster imprint, for a book based on their misadventures. The book, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: And a Thousand Cocktails, hit shelves on May 19.
“We didn’t plan on this or see it coming at all. It was just another stupid thing we were posting online, and for some reason this one had the right ingredients to go viral,” Dave tells THR.
The film follows Mike and Dave’s story throughout its first act: They did indeed post an ad on Craiglist for their cousin’s wedding. They met with many women who responded to the ad, some of whom were very colorful — and in some cases even frightening — characters. But while their onscreen alter egos are conned into taking two women who they thought were nice but who turn out to be trainwrecks, the real Mike and Dave ended up taking a pair of hometown friends to the wedding.
But even if the movie diverges from what really happened, the Stangles appear to be very much the gregarious, charming partiers that Devine and Efron portray in the film. The brothers flew out to Hawaii while the production was shooting to cameo in one of the early scenes, the “meet and greet” preceding the wedding.
“They showed up completely sunburned and drunk,” says director Jake Szymanski. “They have a little bit of that harmless buffoonery thing that’s enjoyable to watch.”
“They were everything that we wanted them to be,” says Devine. “I heard they got kicked out of a hot tub because they were with a bunch of Swedish models. I’m like, ‘What is going on? I’m supposed to be like the movie-star version of you guys, and I’m not making out with models in the Jacuzzi.'”
The Stangles, however, say only one of those two stories are true. They admit that they did show up to set extremely sunburned after renting Harleys to ride around the island for a day.
“I think the Swedish model story was their attempt to make us look much cooler than we are,” Dave says. “Jake’s story is true. We were so sunburned that I think any Swedish model would just run from us.”
Now that they’ve had a taste of Hollywood, the Stangles, who are both still single, are planning on continuing to work in entertainment. They’re writing a semi-autobiographical screenplay, and also working on some digital shorts that they’re writing and will act in.
“The last litmus test for us was our parents,” says Mike of the film version of their lives. “They were the people you could expect, most reasonably, to take something like that most seriously. I sat next to my father at the premiere, and I think I watched his reactions more than the movie himself.”
“He loved it. He said it was the best and only movie he’s seen since Dances With Wolves,” Mike adds.
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