The Stream: A predictable plot dampens some of the laughs.
The Big Screen: A great comedy cast giving it their all.
The Final Bill: A fun time at the movies.– Trip Fontaine
Director: Clay Tarver
Writers: Tom Mullen, Tim Mullen, Clay Tarver, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Stars: Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, John Cena, Meredith Hagner
Rating: Rated R for drug content, crude sexual references, and language throughout
Runtime: 1 hour 43 minutes
Production Companies: 20th Century Studios, Broken Road Productions
Platform: Hulu released August 27, 2021
Last weekend, Hulu released an original comedy, Vacation Friends, starring John Cena, Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji and Meredith Hagner. It is the story of a straight-laced couple on a vacation in Mexico that meets an uninhibited pair who takes the former on a wild ride. At vacation’s end, much to the the dismay and trepidation of the straight-laced couple their new friendship did not stay in Mexico. Essentially, like an odd-couple romantic comedy, you know how these mismatched pairs will come together in the end. The real joy about Vacation Friends has to be how we get to where we know we are going.
Lil Rel and Yvonne Orji play the couple, Marcus and Emily. Marcus is an by-the-book, owner of a construction company who has meticulously planned a Mexican getaway all for the purposes of proposing to Emily. Of course, his plans go wrong – what do you expect? Emily’s most distinctive characteristic is that her upper class father does not approve of Marcus. Because of the necessary plot devices, Emily and Marcus encounter Ron and Kyla, played by John Cena and Meredith Hagner, who are reckless in every way possible. Emily and Marcus and Ron and Kyla would never be friends or even meet in real life, but on vacation with inhibitions gone, they bond and get into some crazy hijinks. I’ll say Lil Rel, Yvonne, Meredith and Cena give their all to these characters. Meredith Hagner is a standout on her regular TV gig, “Search Party”, and she likewise goes for broke here. John Cena is at his daffy, comedic best. It’s all manic and scenery-chewing, but it works for this kind of comedy. While Cena and Hagner get the more outlandish characters, Lil Rel and Yvonne get to have nice chemistry and attempt to ground the film in some realness. If you enjoy these performances and the ensemble as a whole, then you should have no problem chuckling through this fast-paced comedy.
Well, Vacation Friends is a quick comedy that leans heavily on a well-worn plot. Since we know the plot, the film has to stand on the performances of it’s cast; and they come through in spades. Vacation Friends is an easy watch that is fun to catch on these waning summer evening. Grab your box of popcorn and stream to your heart’s content.
S2S: I just want to add to this review. I haven’t wanted to re-watch a comedy in a few years. I absolutely can re-watch this movie and actually want to. That’s saying a lot. The movie isn’t perfect and in fact kind of annoying at parts but it just so enjoyable, crazy and funny. Definitely a big box of fresh popcorn.