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Vacation Friends (2021) – Review: A Likable Comedy That Features Committed Performances From Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, John Cena, and Meredith Hagner

August 27, 2021

Quick Thoughts – Grade – B – Vacation Friends is a fun R-rated comedy that features likable performances and several memorable moments that will make you cringe, laugh, and cringe more. If you’re looking for a comedy that embraces every comedy trope, but still feels unique, you will love Vacation Friends

Directed by Clay Tarver (Silicon Valley) and starring Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, John Cena and Meredith Hagner, Vacation Friends wraps up the summer movie season nicely with a tale about what happens when a conversative couple meets a pair of maniacs while vacationing in Mexico. Hopefully the Hulu release won’t totally bury the movie, because there’s a lot to enjoy about the comedy, as it features inspired gags involving drugs, jet skis, booze, awkward weddings, and more drugs. Also, it’s neat seeing Meredith Hagner, who has been crushing it in Set It Up, Search Party, Palm Springs, and Ingrid Goes West, get a starring role alongside Cena, Howery and Orji. 

Vacation Friends focuses on the relationship between two wildly different couples who meet in Mexico. The first couple we meet are Marcus (Howery and Emily (Orji), who are on vacation from Atlanta. They are wildly conservative as Marcus likes to plan everything, and is all about his spreadsheets that keep things organized. While on their cab ride to their five-star hotel, they see Ron (Cena) and Kyla (Hagner) taking massive bong rips while they navigate the ocean on a speeding jet ski (a fun way to learn the two couples are wildly different). When Marcus and Emily get to the hotel they learn their room has been flooded, and because the water came from Kyla and Ron’s room,  they invite the couple to stay in their presidential suite that has extra rooms. Despite several red flags (Ron rims margarita glasses with cocaine), the couples hit it off and become a close-knit as they party the entire week. Things get dicey the last drug-fueled night when the couples have a makeshift wedding for Marcus and Emily, then jump off a cliff, and get a little too personal back at their room. As the vacation ends, the two couples go their own way, and “promise” to keep in touch (in a very awkward scene). 

Seven months later, Marcus and Emily are about to get married, and are surprised when Ron and Kyla crash their wedding weekend by literally driving through a wall. It would be a shame to spoil more, just know that the rest of the movie features rigged golf games, magic mushrooms, and bird poop. There are moments at the wedding that will make you cringe beyond belief (in a good way), and that’s a testament to the direction and game performances by the central and supporting cast. 

The cinematography by Tim Suhrstedt (Silicon Valley, Idiocracy) is never fancy, but it understands how to capture every joke, and the costume design by Salvador Pérez Jr. (Pitch Perfect) does a fine job of giving each character their own unique and memorable style. Also, the script by the five credited writers consistently finds ways to put a smile on your face with inspired gags, and Waffle House jokes that have a poignant payoff. 

Final thoughtsVacation Friends is worth a watch, and will put a smile on your face. 

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