Reel Reviews | Vacation Friends

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

A couple finds out that what happens in Mexico doesn’t always stay in Mexico as they meet a pair of Vacation Friends.

As they arrive on their Mexican vacation, Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) catch a glimpse of a crazy couple riding wildly on a jet ski.  The staid and rigid couple ridicules them as being reckless and dangerous.  When they arrive at their resort, they are thrown into the room of the reckless couple due to a housing mishap.  After a wild, wild week of partying, Marcus and Emily decide that Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner) are actually very cool, vacation friends.  Unfortunately, Ron and Kyla have no borders on their relationships.

The comedy Vacation Friends was written by Tom and Tim Mullen, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, and Clay Tarver.  It stars John Cena, Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, Meredith Hagner, Lynn Whitfield, Robert Wisdom, and Anna Maria Horsford.  Clay Tarver makes his directorial debut with this film. 

Back in 2005, when this movie was first pitched, the male leads were thought anticipated to be Nicholas Cage and Will Smith.  Six years later, the wrestler-turned-actor John Cena is substituted in the place of Cage and Lil Rel Howery takes over for Smith.  It would be interesting to see how the original pair would work together because the chemistry between Cena and Howery really works well.  Cena seems to have found a niche in playing a cartoonish goofball.

Cena continues to expand the number of films in his acting resume with this, his third film of the year.  This film may not be the big-budget blockbuster of F9 or The Suicide Squad but it is just as entertaining as either of those films.  Although Cena has a few stunts in this one too, Vacation Friends is nothing like the action films Cena has done this year but, it is ridiculously funny.  Cena and Hagner’s characters are so incredibly irresponsible and idiotically carefree that they are incomprehensibly loveable even in the face of all the havoc they cause.  Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji can only just hang on and try to stay sane in the presence of their new “friends.”  Especially when they crash their wedding party. 

Intelligence is at a minimum in this film and much like Cena’s other films of the year, your brain should be turned off to enjoy the ride.  If it is possible for the audience to just accept this profanity-laced, drug-infused comedy at face value, it can be pretty entertaining.  Again, don’t try to think your way through this movie or even attempt to predict the events of the film (it is very straightforward) or you will lose any appreciation for the film.

Rated R for drug content, crude sexual references, and language throughout, Vacation Friends is an inane comedy romp that starts out funny and never lets go. 

Vacation Friends is now showing on Hulu. 

Grade:  B-