Honestly, I hardly know what to make of this movie let alone tell you about it, but one thing’s for sure: it may be on Disney+, but it’s not for kids. R-rated for sex, drugs, and bad words, Vacation Friends is a raunchy comedy that I expected to hate and then kind of didn’t.
The Premise: Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily’s (Yvonne Orji) romantic, tropical vacation is on the brink of ruin, but in randomly befriending Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner), they agree to dispense with Marcus’ usual precision planning and go with the flow to save their getaway. Ron and Kyla are nothing like them – they’re rule-breaking, thrill-seeking party animals who manage to bring out an unknown wild side in both Marcus and Emily during their week in sunny Mexico. Emily and Marcus assume this friendship will dissolve upon return to their normal lives and are surprised – and not in the good way – to find months later that Ron and Kyla have arrived uninvited to their wedding. Ron and Kyla haven’t changed a bit, but Marcus and Emily are straight-laced as ever, in fact desperate to appear even more conservative in front of Emily’s judgmental family. What could possibly go wrong?
The Verdict: Everything goes wrong, naturally. I have a pretty serious dislike of John Cena, but my love for Lil Rel Howery overpowered it, and I managed to check this one out with a somewhat open mind but low expectations. In part, this is a very dumb, inherently dumb movie, with adults acting like kids, with hijinks so janky you can hardly forgive them. And yet I have to give it up to the writers (Tom Mullen, Tim Mullen, and Clay Tarver, who also directs), who somehow managed to incorporate several jokes that were startlingly funny. The story itself may have felt recycled, but the chemistry between the couples really helped the jokes land – sometimes even take you by surprise – and though the film is unapologetically raunchy, it never gets mean or negative, so the laughs are clean and easy. Vacation Friends isn’t winning any awards but if you’re willing to let loose the way Marcus and Emily do in Mexico, I think you’ll be pleased with the result.