VACATION FRIENDS (DISNEY+) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: In this raw and raunchy comedy, straight-laced Marcus and Emily (Howery, Orji) are befriended by wild, thrill-seeking partiers Ron and Kyla (Cena, Hagner) at a resort in Mexico. Living in the moment, the usually level-headed couple lets loose to enjoy a week of uninhibited fun and debauchery with their new “vacation friends.” Months after their walk on the wild side, Marcus and Emily are horrified when Ron and Kyla show up uninvited at their wedding, creating chaos and proving that what happens on vacation, doesn’t necessarily stay on vacation.
Besides Dwayne Johnson, John Cena is the next best wrestler turned actor because his acting range is as good as the latter if not better. Cena has showcased his comedic chops in Trainwreck, Blockers and Daddy’s Home 2 and now proven he is the heart and soul of Vacation Friends, one of the last releases that came out of the 21st Century Fox era.
Vacation Friends is not exactly the kind of laugh-out-loud raunchy comedies that Hollywood regularly churned out. In fact, it sits somewhere between slightly funny and flat out boring and this is despite the presence of Cena and Lil Rey Howery (Free Guy).
Marcus Parker (Lil Rey Howery) is a boss of a construction company and he is about to propose to his girlfriend, Emily (Yvonne Orji) on a vacation to Mexico. But things didn’t go as planned and just when Marcus thought his plan is ruined, they met a free-spirited couple, Ron (Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner) who offers to share their presidential suite and yacht. While the uptight Marcus is reserved at first, he slowly warmed up to Ron and Kyla after a series of alcohol and cocaine-filled escapades.
Just when Marcus and Emily thought their friendship with Ron and Kyla is a one-time thingy, Ron and Kyla turned up uninvited to their wedding unleashing a series of mayhem and revelation. Now it’s up to Marcus to handle Emily’s disapproving dad, his touchy brother-in-law and a free-wheeling Ron. All at the same time.
Two out of the five credited writers, Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley actually wrote and directed Vacation, the continuation of the National Lampoon franchise. It’s largely a forgettable comedy but it has it’s moments. One would expect a movie liked Vacation Friends to contain a slew of jokes and gags with a bit of heart thrown in. Formula as they say. However, comparing this to Vacation, you will be hard pressed to find a single worthy gag except probably the part where Marcus dropped his wedding rings.
Right from the start, the movie sputters with endless montages of the main characters getting drunk and stoned. Then there is a repetitive scene of Marcus and Ron getting stoned during a fox hunt later on. Sadly, there’s little that tickles your funny bone. We wonder where are all the punchlines and gross out gags. Come on, at least give us something nasty to laugh at.
There’s an obvious reason why Vacation Friends skipped the theatrical release. It’s too long and way too humourless to warrant a ticket during a pandemic and this is despite Cena being absolutely bonkers and over-the-top. He deserves all the credit he needs because there’s not much of a movie in the first place without him.
Review by Linus Tee