Vacation Friends (2021) Review
Updated: Oct 18, 2021
OFTEN the simplest method of storytelling results in the greatest pieces of cinema, and while Vacation Friends is certainly not a masterpiece, its ludicrous comedy and premise lends itself to a plethora of self-referential moments that enhance the quality of this seemingly-prudent romantic comedy.
Marcus (Lil Rel Howrey) plans to propose to his girlfriend Emily (Yvonne Orji) during their long-overdue vacation to Mexico. However, these plans soon go awry as they find their luxury suite ruined by an unintended accident caused by the couple staying above them; Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner), an odd-couple determined to see Marcus' vacation succeed. Despite their initial hatred of the two, Marcus and Emily find themselves spending an unforgettable week with Ron and Kyla. But after several months, Marcus and Emily's past catches up to them as their vacation friends surprise them at their wedding where they must keep everything that happened in Mexico a secret from their family as it could shatter any hopes of a perfect life.
The plot of Vacation Friends is anything but original; its blatant odd-couple setup during the first act makes the film feel unimaginative, making comparisons to forgettable vacation movies of the 2000s unavoidable, but its conventional structure is redeemed by the unconventional characters as well as the leading actors and actresses who carry this lewd love story.
Howery and Orji play the role of a straight-edge couple wonderfully, never stepping into uncharted waters and always remaining in their comfort zone of normality unless influenced by their polar opposites Cena and Hagner. These two are easily the highlight of the movie, possessing incredible chemistry with the latter couple thanks to their tremendous comedic timing and absurdity during otherwise normal situations. Cena, in particular, shines as the brightest star out of the ensemble due to his charismatic energy and surprisingly-deep character writing which enhances his relationship with both Kyla and Marcus as he's able to reveal traits about himself that vastly contrasts his persona of a perpetual party boy.
Clay Tarver's comedic romp kicks off with the two couples getting to know each other before swiftly transitioning into a high energy montage of partying, setting the tone for what I expected the entirety of Vacation Friends to be. While the film possesses moments of absurdity throughout, it never reaches the same heights that was presented in the opening act, causing a severe pacing problem which caused the following act to suffer before slightly recovering during the finale that wrapped up the preceding events in a satisfying conclusion to an amusing rollercoaster filled with surprises, heartbreak and humour.
I'll be honest; I wasn't expecting much from this generic-looking comedy, but Vacation Friends was an unexpected treat. Some of the humour may not always land, but even the unfunniest jokes still managed to make me grin because of the incredible performances given by Howery, Orji, Cena and Hagner, with none of the actors being a weak link. If you're looking for a competent comedy filled with raunchy humour and a charming cast, Vacation Friends will take you on a humorous holiday you won't want to come back from.