Vacation Friends Review: Fun Summer Comedy Where John Cena Excels
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Review: Vacation Friends Is A Fun Summer Comedy That Doesn’t Get Too Raunchy

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BY August 27, 2021

After his super serious, but also comedic turn in The Suicide Squad, John Cena returns in a full-out comedy. Vacation Friends is the perfect summer comedy that walks a fine line of raunchy humour without taking things too far. While it fails to stick the landing in its third act, the experience overall is still fun enough to overlook that misstep. This Vacation Friends review will talk about how the movie had great performances and some pretty good humour, and most importantly, kept me engaged from beginning to end. Something a lot of these types of adult comedies fail to do. Find out in this Vacation Friends review to see how this movie is different. 

Not Like Every Other Raunchy Adult Comedy

Featured. Image via Hulu.

If there’s one thing that I can’t find a fault with in Vacation Friends, it’s the overall premise and situations. Most adult comedies almost always feature a crazy premise, that they double down on with even more outrageous situations that snowball into a wildly unrealistic climax. Thinking about it now, that’s probably why most of these types of comedies lose me by the third act. 

Vacation Friends is all about Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji), a couple on a vacation that doesn’t start too well. Complications with their room force them to stay with another couple, Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner), which kick starts this wild adventure. The usually uptight and repressed Marcus has to learn to let his hair down, given that Ron & Kyla are free-spirited and laid back. The two couples enjoy a great week together and bond in surprising ways. As the title suggests, it’s when their vacation friends show up in their everyday lives, that things get complicated. 

The Premise Of Vacation Friends Is Very Relatable

Crazy When it hits the fan! | Image via Hulu.

This is what makes Vacation Friends very relatable. We all get on a special high when on vacation, and the decision-making can be spotty at best. Returning to the real world always puts things in perspective. Especially when it comes to the kind of people we met and those interactions we had. Marcus and Emily quickly realize that Ron and Kyla at their wedding, with already strained family relationships, is not the best way to get married. 

Honestly, Vacation Friends can easily be a raunchy and vulgar comedy that goes to some pretty R-rated extremes. And it would be fine. But I appreciate that it didn’t go down those routes. And the movie very much was marketed in that manner, with the only crude jokes making it to the trailer. But the movie’s humour comes from the differences between these four peoples’ personalities and lifestyles. And how their everyday problems in life are affected by each others’ influences. Which is a lot less after-school special than I’m making it sound. 

This Vacation Friends Review Is Mostly Spoiler-Free

Vacation Friends review cast. On top of the world! | Image via Hulu.

After the story, it’s honestly the performances of Vacation Friends that stand out. Obviously, Howery and Orji are playing the straight couple, the regular characters who have to react to the craziness around them. Whereas Cena and Wagner have the more fun roles, where they get to be crazy and wild and totally out there. But even in that craziness, the performances are very restrained and held back. I first paid attention to John Cena, the actor, during Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, where he played Schumer’s character’s beefy boyfriend with latent homosexual tendencies. He built on that performance with other comedies like Blockers and the Daddy’s Home movies. 

Cena’s dramatic roles such as the recent F9 villain turn are a lot less than his comedic ones. However, he recently was able to combine comedy and drama in his role in The Suicide Squad. But Vacation Friends is Cena’s comedic acting showcase, given that he’s the outrageous character, while still giving it a lot of depth and nuance. Wagner perfectly compliments his craziness, while also adding layers to their dynamic. Howery and Orji are pitch-perfect as the couple reacting to both these insane people. 

How This Requires Less Suspension Of Disbelief Than Usual

Vacation Friends review Cena. Best performance in the movie. | Image via Hulu.

Vacation Friends is by far not a perfect movie. But of the things it has going for it, is the need to not have to suspend your disbelief too much. Many times in comedies, the supporting actors are always ignorant to the crazy characters’ antics, further exasperating the straight character. So when Ron and Kyla show up at Marcus and Emily’s wedding, you expect exactly that. But their craziness stands on their own, and isn’t at the expense of dumbing down every other character, as we wonder why they don’t see how terrible they are. The climax is more about everyone else turning on Ron and Kyla, as Marcus and Emily see their value and have to accept the dynamic of their foursome, all on their own. It’s a great shift to the usual comedy tropes. 

Vacation Friends Is A Casual Summer Comedy

Vacation Friends review girls. When things get kooky. | Image via Hulu.

Vacation Friends a very fun and casual watch. It’s entirely reliant on the performances of Cena and the rest of the leading cast. There’s less work on the part of the audience to enjoy the movie without having to turn your brain off. For the most part, anyways. It’s very light and funny in the right parts, while also being sweet when it needs to be near the end. While the third act wraps up pretty abruptly, it’s still done better than usual. 

Vacation Friends is premieres on Hulu starting August 27. 

What did you think of Vacation Friends and John Cena’s all-out comedic performance? Let me know in the comments below. 

Featured image via Hulu. 

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Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.

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