‘Vacation Friends’ Review: Life Lessons Amid Chaos

The outrageous couples comedy is by now an established if not reliable genre. “Vacation Friends” has a quality advantage in the casting of the couples; Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, John Cena and Meredith Hagner are all guaranteed laugh generators.

Howery and Orji are Marcus and Emily; Marcus is a buttoned-up planner whose surprise proposal to Emily is overturned pretty much as soon as they arrive at a swank Mexican resort. Their own suite, which had been festooned with rose petals, is flooded on arrival. The culprits are the upstairs neighbors Ron and Kyla, who left their Jacuzzi running before they went out to jet ski.

Played by Cena and Hagner, the couple embody spontaneity pushed to the point of psychopathy. These two rim their margarita glasses with cocaine. In less than 24 hours they trash both a jet ski and a yacht. Ron initiates a William Tell act with his automatic. And then things get sloppy.

Seven months later, Marcus and Emily are to be wed in Atlanta. Components designed to sabotage a serene union include the bride’s snobbish father, hostile brother, a pair of heirloom rings that Marcus must keep safe, and more. Ron and Kyla literally crash the event. True to the subgenre, the ensuing chaos also contains mutated “life lessons.”

Clay Tarver, a veteran of the TV series “Silicon Valley” (and a founder of the postpunk band Chavez) directs with an eye and ear that’s a cut above what one usually gets with this sort of fare. (A scene in which Marcus and Ron hallucinate on tree fungus is inventively lo-fi.) What Kyla says of the cocaine-margarita stunt — “it gets the job done” — can be applied to the movie as a whole.

Vacation Friends
Rated R for outrageous couple comedy outrageousness. Running time: 1 hour 47 minutes. Watch on Hulu.

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