Vacation Friends is a mindless farce of slapstick and absurdity. It features exaggerated characters getting into exaggerated antics. Such antics involve lots of beer, lots of drugs, and lots of bug-eyed reactions to the craziness that spews forth.
All of that is pretty par for the course of this type of film. It features these wild acts going down at vacations and weddings. It doesn’t, however, become little more than a paint-by-numbers cavalcade of crazy humor that doesn’t go crazy enough.
Two Terrible Couples
The film begins with a couple of Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) on their way to Mexico. Marcus is hoping to close the deal and pop the question on a romantic getaway. The problem is that Marcus has terrible luck.
Marcus finds himself booking the most inept of hotels that he ends up without a room. Despite being so neurotic, he doesn’t let that stand in his way. He still proposes and Emily still says yes.
Their act of romance in the lobby inspires the vacationing couple of Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner). This couple is spontaneous enough to let Marcus and Emily share their Presidential suite. They’re also brash enough to supply them with cocaine for the most rocking vacation ever.
The vacation between the two couples showcases their Odd Couple coupling. Ron and Kyla are eager enough to jump off cliffs and revel in bar fights. Marcus and Emily, on the other hand, are well…not that.
With some coaxing, however, Marcus and Emily begin to enjoy themselves. They go on a drinking binge where they spend the whole night partying. They take some exciting strolls all around Mexico.
These bits are mostly par for the course. For instance, Ron invites everyone onto his boat and lets Marcus drive the boat. Marcus, excited by his handling of the vehicle, doesn’t hear Ron’s brief warning about rocks. Your mind can fill in the rest.
After a hangover of a vacation, Marcus and Emily return home for their formal wedding. The wedding, taking place at a high-class estate for Emily’s family, is a pretty stuffy event. The unannounced arrival of Ron and Kyla, however, changes all of that.
Though Ron and Kyla have absolutely nothing against Marcus and Emily, they bring a certain sense of unease to their unflinching party nature. They manage to please Emily’s uptight father but become far too chummy. Marcus’s luck also seems to decrease when stammering around Ron as well.
The inciting incident that makes the wedding all the tenser is that Kyla is pregnant. Marcus, not being able to remember one wild night of vacation sex, isn’t sure if the kid is his. It’s not but a big portion of the comedy relies on him being unsure.
Being an R-rated comedy, the gross-out gags are present but rarely shock. Perhaps the best bit is that Ron is an animal expert with an uncanny ability to predict when a bird will poop in the sky. It’s a mildly funny trait that is sadly reduced to just Cena pointing at birds right before bowel evacuation.
The drunk and stoned ventures are also rather standard. All the visual hallmarks come out to play from blurred vision to slowed-down voices to trippy visions. Slap on some familiar music and you’ve got your average frat comedy where characters amble about in a stupor.
Some Personality Amid The Chaos
Perhaps the best aspects of the film come from the genuine nature of concern between the couples. Despite being so different, both of them just want to have fun. More importantly, they want to do right by each other in their own odd ways.
Consider how Ron comes to the aid of Marcus during the pre-wedding games. Ron, being an expert golfer, finds a way to con Marcus’s snooty in-laws on a bet. It’s a predictable con but there’s some sweetness to having such a brash and competent buddy by your side.
There’s a refreshing sort of honesty to Ron and Kyla that is almost infectious. It’s easier to align yourself with this partying couple in all their brash ways. It’s harder to sympathize with Marcus being the short-fused and unsure groom who stammers around in frustration at nearly everything.
Conclusion: Vacation Friends
There’s very little meat to Vacation Friends to be anything more than a forgettable trip. Its humor comes about as advertised and the vacation antics rarely surprise. If anything, the film is further proof that vacation comedies haven’t been great since National Lampoon.
If you squint and tilt your head, perhaps there are some charming aspects to the clashing of couples. But when the most laugh-worthy moment is a naked John Cena pointing at a pooping bird, the bar is rather low for laughs. Given that the film was stitched together by five different writers, the patchy and committee nature shows.
Did you see Vacation Friends on Hulu? Was it a funny farce or a dreadful dud of a comedy? How does it compare to the recent comedy of Free Guy? Let us know in the comments below.
A routine trip to a comedy of drug trips and wedding ridiculousness that does little to stand out from the crowd.
- Solid casting.
- Some small bits of smile-worthy comedy.
- Remarkably restrained in some scenes.
- Humor that is far too telegraphed.
- Never goes far enough in its irreverence.
- Sitcomish in its plotting of mishaps.