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Vacation Friends


Vacation Friends
2021's Vacation Friends is a silly and improbable big budget comedy that gets sillier and more improbable as it progresses, and suffers from some questionable casting, but remains watchable thanks to a terrific performance from one of the leading men and some clever plot twists.

Marcus and Emily (Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji) are a recently engaged couple who spend a week in Mexico vacationing with Ron and Kyla (Jon Cena, Meredith Hagner), an outrageous pair of hard core partiers who try to teach Marcus and Emily how to live on the edge, starting by rimming their margaritas with cocaine. Marcus and Emily say a hasty goodbye to Ron and Kyla as they leave Mexico, hoping to forget them and everything that happened there. Of course, five months later, Ron and Kyla show up at Marcus and Emily's weekend wedding celebration in Atlanta, expecting to be the best man and maid of honor.

Director and co-screenwriter Clay Tarver, the creative force behind the TV series Silicone Valley, has mounted an over the top comedy that walks the tightrope of good taste throughout most of the running time, connecting two couples who normally would never have become friends. What he does here that works is making Marcus and Emily black and Ron and Kyla white. If their races had been switched, this film would have been completely offensive. It's the world we live in.

The scenes in Mexico are actually the funniest...they establish the bond that the couples create, or at least the bond Ron and Kyla think they are creating, allowing us to understand why they would track Marcus and Emily down. Once the action shifts to Atlanta, it just gets sillier and sillier including an Auntie Mame fox hunt, and a golf match where the stakes are $100 a hole.

The one thing that completely works in this movie is the energetic and charismatic performance by Jon Cena as Ron. With the right role, this guy could become another Dwayne Johnson, but he just hasn't found the right role yet. Lil Rel Howery works very hard as Marcus, but this role should have been played by Kevin Hart. Robert Wisdom is terrific as Emily's dad and Anthony Bachelor is very funny as her brother. First rate production values help, but it never really comes together and the story definitely could have used some tightening.