VACATION FRIENDS 2 – Review – We Are Movie Geeks



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So, is it too late for a quick “vacay”? Sure, most of the schools are back in session, but since Labor Day is only next weekend, why not? And how about bringing along that wild and crazy couple you met a couple of years ago? Well, that could be trouble, though the main character in this comedy sequel believes he has everything under control. Yeah…right. So just what kind of chaos awaits in the Carribean for that quirky quartet (actually a sextet this time) in VACATION FRIENDS 2? Aside from lots of frequent flyer miles, of course.

This farce actually begins in an airport terminal as Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and his wife Emily (Yvonne Orji) leave their plane from Chicago to get their connecting flight to the Caribbean. Oh, and they’re meeting up with the wild and wacky Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hanger). And they’re bringing along baby Marcus with his new “manny”, former hotel staffer Maurillio (Carlos Santos). All seems to be going smoothly with Marcus’ master plan. They’re all staying in a plush suite in a fancy resort run by a Korean company. Ron and his crew have a return flight after five days, as they believe that Marcus and Emily need some “alone time” to work on their own offspring. Aha! Marcus just needs them gone in order to meet with the reps from the hotel and get a construction contract for their new deluxe resort in the Windy City. And once they land, all is well until Marcus spots the company reps led by the snippy Yeon (Ronny Chieng) near the pool. It turns out that their boss, Mrs. Kim, needs to push up the meeting…to the day after tomorrow. Marcus thinks he can control his pals at a big “get-together” that evening. And then there’s a “party crasher”…Kyla’s widowed papa Reese (Steve Buscemi), just sprung from San Quentin. Whoa! What was he doing there? And what is he doing here? Of course, he’s getting the foursome into lots of trouble in a search for missing drug loot. Certainly everything can be resolved before the big sales pitch meeting. Oh, that optimistic Marcus…

Oh, and he’s a constant “straight man” in this follow-up once more, squandering the sharp comedic talent of Mr. Howery, who deserves to be more than just the literal “butt” of so many silly slapstick gags (as in makes me want to…). When will his skills match the material, ala’ GET OUT? And Cena is the affable “lunkhead”, though not as aggressively dim as the Peacemaker of the DCEU. Yes, he’s giving every dopey punchline more energy than they deserve, but the character is less focused this time. Speaking of energy, Ms. Hanger’s enthusiastic reciting of flat jokes could power a small town. Such dedication is to be rewarded, but her efforts can’t make the abrasive Kyla more tolerable as she displays almost no impulse control. Who’d want to be anywhere near this offensive potty-mouthed “party girl”? Escaping with some dignity is the dazzling Orji, who is given a rather tepid subplot as she constantly reprimands her hubby. Santos is also putting his best foot forward, though his Maurillio seems wildly out of place as he tends to the baby while looking to “score”. As for the VF “newbies”, Chieng is a sneering boorish foe for Marcus, channeling lots of his surly mojo from his role in M3GAN. And the superb character actor Buscemi is under-utilized as the skeevy conman who is used to “break down” Ron’s sunny persona. His Reese’s main mission is to bring in the explosive mayhem.

Well, at least the locales are pretty, with Hawaii subbing for the Caribbean. For this trip, returning director Clay Tarver worked on the script solo. There’s the old expression about “too many cooks”, well this script “stew” cries out for a few more chiefs. The comic set pieces just fall flat and quickly devolve into shouting matches with jump cuts to try and ‘sell” the manic frenzy, all abetted by a music score that tries hard to be amusing. I’ll admit to a couple of mildly entertaining “bits” in the first installment, but the cliches and clunky dialogue (who talks like Kyla) just make this an endurance test for your patience. So, for the love of movies will someone confiscate their passport to prevent a “hat trick” after the vapid VACATION FRIENDS 2?

.5 Out of 4

VACATION FRIENDS 2 is now streaming exclusively on Hulu

Jim Batts was a contestant on the movie edition of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in 2009 and has been a member of the St. Louis Film Critics organization since 2013.