Friday, August 25, 2023

Vacation Friends 2: Movie Review

The original friends are in over their heads.

The vacation friends are back on vacation. Ron (John Cena) & Kyla (Meredith Hagner) and Marcus (Lil Rel Howery & Emily (Yvonne Orji) are in the Caribbean on Marcus’ generosity – or more accurately, on the generosity of an Asian hotel group that Marcus’s company is trying to get into business with, and of course Marcus didn’t tell Ron and Kyla since they can be, you know, embarrassing.   2023

Directed by: Clay Tarver

Screenplay by: Clay Tarver

Starring: John Cena, Lil Rel Howery, Meredith Hagner, and Yvonne Orji

The cast who were hilarious in the first Vacation Friends, are just as funny and even more in sync with their characters the second time around. Some new faces threaten to disrupt the chemistry: Ronny Chieng as Yeon, the head of the Asian company Marcus is trying to impress, and Steve Buscemi as Reese, Kyla’s father who is fresh out of prison. The good news is the chemistry amongst the cast is not disrupted at all. Ron and Marcus are united in their distrust of Reese, and Chieng’s golden comic delivery is on point every time he pops up unexpectedly.

The bad news is the new outrageous characters disrupt the eco-balance in who is going to be the straight guy. Compared to papa Reese, Ron & Kyla are very sane, level-headed individuals who have to watch out for which lies are likely going to send them to the bottom of the sea in a wooden crate. As Emily said, “Remember when we first met Ron & Kyla, we thought they were batshit crazy, but we were wrong” and Marcus replies “Wel…”. And that’s the key point. Ron & Kyla are crazy but the good kind of crazy. Reese is the bad kind of crazy.

And then we have Yeon and his team of Asian businessmen. They keep introducing weird behaviours as part of their business traditions in their culture. But none of it resembles known Asian cultures. I think that’s part of the joke that these aren’t Asian traditions and are just made up, but that becomes a non-sequitur of a that keeps running throughout the movie.

The original friends have some great jokes, but much like the first movie, those great jokes are primarily at the beginning of the movie. As the plot keeps building, the jokes get buried a bit more. A common problem with comedy sequels is that everything is bigger and bolder to the detriment of the story. That’s not really the case here since you can’t reasonably get bigger and bolder than the first one. It’s also thankfully a different plot, and a new plot which fits the original characters, but it’s the new characters that disrupt the finely tuned eco-system of this particular brand of crazy.