The other day, I told you about Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, which I didn’t think was very good, but different strokes and all of that. The biggest surprise of it for me was that what seemed like such a Hollywood movie was actually based on some real guys — Mike and Dave Stangle, two brothers from Albany. In the movie, Mike and Dave need dates for their sister’s wedding, so they put up a Craigslist ad, complete with a Photoshop of themselves as centaurs. That part, it turns out, was all true, complete with centaurs ‘Shopped over the Declaration of Independence (except that the real wedding was their cousin’s, and it was in Saratoga instead of Hawaii).
Here’s the original ad, from 2013.
Two men need wedding dates
My brother and I are looking for wedding dates.
We’ve been told by the bride that bringing dates is “mandatory” so we “won’t harass all of my friends all night” and “stay under control”. Rather than ask some fringe women in our lives to go and face the inevitable ‘does this mean he wants to take it to the next level!?’ questions, we’d rather bring complete strangers and just figure it out. Still reading? In anticipation of your questions we’ve developed an FAQ section below.
SO – What are you fellas like, anyway?
Oh us? We’re both in our 20s, single, dashingly tall, Anglo-Saxon, respectfully athletic, love to party, completely house trained, relaxed, passionate, smell great, have cool hair, clean up nice, boast great tie collections, will promise to shave, love our mother, have seen Love Actually several times, controversial, provocative, short-sighted (with a big picture mentality), raw, emotional, sensitive but still bad boys.
What should us ladies be like?
You should respond in pairs as you’ll want to know at least 1 person at this wedding. Sisters (twins?!) are preferable, but we’ll take friends, or even enemies. You should be attractive or our aunts will judge you, but not TOO attractive or one of our uncles might grope you. You should be relaxed and easy going as we’ll probably make up flattering lies about you on the spot. You should own a dress, or be able to acquire one because we don’t have any. If (when) you respond you should send some pictures of yourself so we know you’ve met the above requirements. Feel free to include a resume; this is a classy wedding and we’re looking for well-rounded women. Interesting/unique pairings are encouraged; don’t be afraid to make yourself stand out!
…and so forth.
In the movie, the ad goes viral and the brothers land on Wendy Williams. In real life, all that more or less happened, only it was Today, Good Morning America, and Anderson Cooper.
As of the above interview, they claimed to have received 2600 responses to the ad. Unlike in the movie, they reportedly ending up taking “a pair of ‘hometown gals’ who they’ve known since childhood.”
They managed to parlay the ad into a deal with Fox for their life rights, which became the movie, and a book from Simon & Schuster, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates: And a Thousand Cocktails, which came out in May 2015.
Not many people who go viral manage to Chewbacca Mom their way into a pile of money so successfully, especially impressive considering part of the original ad seemed to call their shot, Babe Ruth-style, promising their wedding dates a piece of the pie:
Royalties once our night’s story is developed into a romantic comedy*
*if this happens (we estimate the chances at 85%) we refuse the right to let Ashton Kutcher play either of our characters, however, we will consider him for a supporting role.
I wondered how that came about, and a recent Hollywood Reporter profile seems to contain the answer — they had a buddy at CAA, the super agency.
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 Stangle’s 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 his 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.
Everyone seems to have a fun story about the bros.
The brothers flew out to Hawaii while the production was shooting to appear in a cameo in one of the early scenes at the “meet and greet” at Mike and Dave’s sister’s wedding weekend.
“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.” […] [The brothers] admit that they did show up to set extremely sunburned after renting Harleys to ride around the island for a day.
Dana Schwartz profiled them for The Observer and was equally charmed:
Mike and Dave were so pleasant and likeable in person. They make fun of each other, and compare notes on biking, and play with the equalizer screen on my recorder for the interview with such childlike enthusiasm it’s genuinely endearing. “In my experience, there’s not one mean person in Hollywood,” Dave said. “Everyone has just been so fabulous.” They are the human equivalent of golden retrievers.
And they’re quite the kidders.
“What we can tell you is that Rupert Murdoch personally landed his helicopter on our front lawn with a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist,” the brothers told us. “We thought he was going to buy our life rights right there on the spot, but when he opened up the briefcase the only thing inside was a sleeve of Ritz crackers. That man is a tough negotiator.” [New York]
*cough* Seinfeld! *cough, cough*
Asked how their family is going to react to the stunt, one brother told us, “Out of boredom I tried to convince my dad at Christmas that I’d gone gay now because the lifestyle just suits me better. He was very confused and extremely unamused. I’d imagine he’ll have the same response to this once we just keep repeating, ‘We’ve gone viral, pop.'” [New York]
As for their book, however… well, at least the way Schwartz describes it, it sounds kind of terrible.
First things first: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a bad book on multiple levels. Do not buy it at the airport. Do not buy it as a birthday gift for that nephew you don’t really know. […] I would be surprised to learn that anyone, including the authors in anything resembling an editing phase, has read this book. […]
I asked what Mike and Dave like to read. There is a full eight-second pause before Dave manages to get out, “I do read a lot of magazines.” Another full five-Mississippi seconds. “A lot more magazines than books.”
And, more than a little sexist. Some passages from the book (bracketed commentary by Schwartz):
“More often there was a Beautiful Girl and her Okay Friend. I think Okay was out there looking for Mr. Right and having no luck, so Okay’s mom emailed her our ad after watching the Today Show. Okay took it as a sign and put together a creative response, then convinced her hottest friend to let her slap some Facebook photos in the response. Dave loved calling dibs on the hot one [to their faces.]”
“If he’s talking to you, that means he’s already had sexual thoughts about you, and he liked them!” [Yup. Can’t think of a single other reason a man might want to talk to a woman.]
But I guess I can’t judge them too much, seeing as how Dave reportedly donated part of his liver:
The biggest difference in their lives since then is their family motorcycle gang, called the Sons of Sobriety. The moniker refers to their father, newly sober after Dave donated half his liver to him when their dad was sick with cirrhosis. “Daddy was a drinker,” says Dave—to which Mike says quickly, “Well, not that bad,” before explaining that Dave and his father needed to go to the hospital once a week for seven months for the procedures. Dave makes light of this fairly quickly. [GQ]
Bit of a bummer, because to be honest, I was all set to hate them, on account of Dave now lives in the East Village and has an apartment with a roof deck. Anyway, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates opened this week. Mike and Dave Stangle live in New York, where Mike is a bartender and Dave works as a copywriter for BarkBox.
Vince Mancini is a writer, comedian, and podcaster. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.