(director/writer: Clay Tarver; screenwriters: Tim Mullen/Tom Mullen/Jonathan Goldstein/John Francis Daley; cinematographer: Tim Suhrstedt; editor: Evan Henke; music: Rolfe Kent; cast: Lil Rel Howery (Marcus), John Cena (Ron), Yvonne Orji (Emily), Meredith Hagner (Kyla), Robert Wisdom (Harold, Emily’s father), Kamel Bolden (Bennet), Andrew Bachelor (Gabe, Emily’s brother), Lynn Whitfield (Suzanne, Emily’s mother), Barry Rothbart (Darren); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Timothy M. Bourne, Todd Garne: 20th Century Studios/Hulu; 2021)


Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

TV director Clay Tarver (“Silicon Valley “TV series) and founder of the post-punk band Chavez, directs this dumb-assed time-waster. Its strained raucous comedy is at its best when flashing its mildly amusing broad humor, as it’s about outrageous opposite couples who clash when on vacation at a posh Mexican resort and then unconvincingly meet again a year later at the wedding of one of the couples.

Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) are the square Black couple. He’s a well-off businessman, who always follows the rules as a Chicago building contractor. He wants to propose to his gal on the vacation he has planned well for. But is thrown a curve ball when things go wrong from the onset, as his luxury room is damaged when a Jacuzzi in the room over his floods and goes into his room making his room unfit for occupancy. The hotel manager tells them no other rooms are available since the resort is completely booked. The responsible party are their destructive upstairs working-class white neighbors Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner), who left their Jacuzzi on and then went out to jet ski.

Marcus now proposes marriage to Emily in the hotel hallway. Whereby the guilt-ridden couple, who blew their life savings on this vacation, invite them to stay with them in their room for a week. The now engaged couple accept and then go through a holiday from hell, which has such outrages as Ron and Kyla proposing
Margarita toasts with cocaine instead of salt around the rim of the glass and a series of other irresponsible actions (edgy practical jokes, the wreckage of a 40 foot sailboat, getting stoned & cliff-diving in the dark) that go against their conservative lifestyle.

Marcus does not invite the free-spirited Ron and Kyla to his society wedding a year later in Atlanta, but they manage to crash it anyway.

The droll humor is hardly amusing, as the talented cast struggle to keep it light and over-the-top like one of those decent spring break comedies in the ’80s. But the poor script co-written by Tarver, the Mullen brothers of Tom & Tim,
Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daly never works right and leaves the vacationers looking for laughs not earned.  Only Hagner gets some laughs because her delivery is just right for this failed comedy.

Vacation Friends

REVIEWED ON 8/31/2021  GRADE: C+