Vacation Friends review – lacking certain amenities Yelp

August 27, 2021
M.N. Miller 0
Film Reviews, Hulu
2

Summary

If you stream Vacation Friends on Hulu this weekend, be prepared to leave a two-star review.

2

Summary

If you stream Vacation Friends on Hulu this weekend, be prepared to leave a two-star review.

 

This review of Vacation Friends does not contain spoilers — it will be released on Hulu on August 27, 2021. 

I do not imagine when John Cena tells Lil Rel Howery, “My balls work, man. My balls work because of you,” it will end up in a classic clip package in future Oscar broadcasts or AFI events. It’s an otherwise harmless scene. Like most Vacation Friends, for that matter. Which, for a comedy, is the biggest sin of all.  Especially in any culture clash genre movie.

Friends begins with Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) taking his girlfriend, Emily (Yvonne Orji), on a lovely Mexico vacation. He plans to pop the question when Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner) overflow their jacuzzi in the president’s suite that leaks into their room below. They are the classic odd couples. The latter is the crazy type. The ones that will spend their entire savings every year or two on a five-star vacation. Even if they crash a catamaran, it’s without a care in the world.

The others are working professionals. Savers and planners. Worried about the future. However, it’s vacation. Ron and Kyla practically beat the stuffiness out of them. The tequila flows freely. They even dust margarita glasses with some high-grade cocaine (American cocaine, by the way). Even a good old-fashioned partner swap and some tender forehead kisses. However, like a bad penny, they can’t get rid of them. Their new best friends crash their rehearsal dinner, literally, without even being invited. 

These detailed inhibitions and how these couples look at life through different lenses should easily lead to comedy gold. Yet, it strangely doesn’t. It’s a comedy without any real laughs. And for that matter, even amusing is a stretch. Making his feature directorial debut, Director Clay Tarver co-wrote the script with (gulp) Tom and Tim Mullen,  Jonathan Goldstein, and Freaks and Geeks’ John Francis Daley. It’s never a good sign when so many have their hand in the script, even one as light as this.

For a comedy, Vacation Friends is too heavily invested in the likability of Howery and Cena.  Even if they have a certain chemistry, I’ll admit Cena has an endearing charm here. To make matters worse, all the supporting characters are so thinly drawn, they are practically translucent. And when the writers attempt to make individuals three-dimensional, they do it with heavily manipulative reveals.

The critical point where Vacation Friends flounders is in its ambiguity because neither couple is extreme enough on either end of the spectrum to generate enough absurdity. If you like Howery and Cena, by all means, enjoy. However, this is the same comedy you have seen a thousand times before and done with even less care.

 

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