What happens on vacation doesn’t necessarily stay on vacation as we see in the raunchy Hulu Original comedy, Vacation Friends.
Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) are a run-of-the-mill couple vacationing in Mexico. Marcus, who owns a construction firm, is planning to propose. Almost as soon as they arrive, they meet their polar opposites in Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner). These two couples couldn’t be more different if they tried. Ron and Kyla are the thrill-seeking type whereas Marcus and Emily are not. They’re honestly the last people in the world that you would call friends. But lo and behold, they are now vacation friends having the time of their lives. Until they part ways at the airport and never see each other again. Or so they thought. Ron and Kyla show up completely unannounced at Marcus and Emily’s wedding. What happened in Mexico is going to come out for everyone to hear about in due time. You just need to see it for yourself!
Ron and Kyla have this weird way of influencing both Marcus and Emily. I mean, if you look at Marcus at the start of the film, he goes on quite the journey and not just in a vacation type of way. His attitude is completely different at the end of the film because of the character growth. It’s bad enough already that he can never seem to please his future father-in-law, Harold (Robert Wisdom), much in the same way we saw between Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro in the Meet the Parents films. Nor does he have a good relationship with Emily’s brother, Gave (Andrew Bachelor). Marcus’s attitude is different from that of Emily. Maybe it’s because of her background but she just gets along better with them.
For starters, what exactly are vacation friends? They are exactly as it’s described–the people we meet on vacation and become friends with but we never plan to see them again. We never allow them to see the real us so to speak. I mean, we’re out there having fun on vacation before going back to work in a few days. Because Ron and Kyla are partiers, Marcus and Emily find themselves living a real-life Hangover. Let me remind you, this film is raunchy–anything can and will happen! What they do in Mexico is behave in a way that they’d never act in front of their families or work friends.
I love the casting here. You could really cast anyone in this film because it’s not a film that really requires diversity to succeed. This film works because of the script–anyone can feel like they’re marrying out of their league. I would not change a thing about this cast. Look at John Cena playing this free-spirited person who is also an ex-special forces Green Beret. Cena brings something to the role that you just cannot get from other actors. There’s something about his comic work that I’ve grown to see from him over the years. Who better to star opposite Cena than Lil Rel Howery? He’s perfect especially in how he reacts to whatever is happening on screen. Please give me more films starring these two together! I couldn’t get enough of them on screen together.
This is a pandemic movie although eight days were shot in Puerto Rico before production shut down in March. It’s interesting to watch these scenes play out in comparison to what was shot in Atlanta. For one, you can get a sense of a different attitude in how people are framed. The Atlanta scenes feel completely different–like filmmakers are being more careful about how many people are in a shot. But hey, the comedy finds a way to work and it isn’t a Zoom film so I’ll take it.
Vacation Friends is a raunchy but hysterically funny comedy and may it be the start of a beautiful Cena-Howery screen comedy duo.
DIRECTOR: Clay Tarver
SCREENWRITERS: Tom Mullen & Tim Mullen and Clay Tarver and Jonathan Goldstein & John Francis Daley
CAST: John Cena, Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, Meredith Hagner, Robert Wisdom, Andrew Bachelor, and Lynn Whitfield