|Original title:||Vacation Friends 2|
|Running time:||105 minutes|
|Release date:||25 august 2023|
The world of comedy sequels is a tricky one. While some manage to recapture the magic of the original and continue to make people laugh, others fall flat, trying to reproduce the formula without understanding what made the first installment such a success. Unfortunately, Vacation Friends 2 falls into the latter category, struggling to capture the comic charm that made its predecessor such a success.
Picking up where the first film left off, Vacation Friends 2 finds a quartet of oddball friends - Marcus (Lil Rel Howery), Emily (Yvonne Orji), Ron (John Cena), and Kyla (Meredith Hagner) - bonding in the midst of a chaotic vacation. This time, the two couples embark on a Caribbean getaway, Marcus hoping to close a deal while dealing with the presence of Kyla's father, Reese (Steve Buscemi), a recently released ex-convict. What ensues is a series of increasingly far-fetched misadventures that aim to up the ante, but more often than not miss the mark.
The film's central problem lies in its attempt to amplify comedy by escalating chaos. Instead of finding new and inventive ways to explore the characters and their dynamics, Vacation Friends 2 relies on louder gags, more extreme situations and cruder humor. While these elements can work in the right context, here they often feel forced and overplayed, leading to diminishing results. The charm that the original film managed to exude thanks to its eccentric characters and relatable situations is largely lost in the cacophony of over-the-top scenarios.
John Cena's comic prowess remains remarkable, as he fully embodies the role of Ron, well-intentioned but totally unpredictable. His physicality and commitment to the character's antics elicit heartfelt laughter, and he infuses the proceedings with much-needed energy. Likewise, Meredith Hagner's Kyla is as dynamic as ever, delivering her lines with an insouciance that sometimes gets a laugh. However, the film's attempts to derive humor from their unpredictable behavior become repetitive and tiresome as the running time wears on.
The addition of Steve Buscemi to the cast is promising, as his deadpan delivery and quirky charm seem likely to breathe new life into the film. Unfortunately, even his comedic talents fail to save the script's poor attempts to elicit laughter. Buscemi's presence is ultimately wasted, as the film relies on his character's criminal past to steer the plot in predictable directions, sacrificing opportunities for genuine wit in favor of contrived action.
One of Vacation Friends 2's major pitfalls is its misguided attempt to embrace action-comedy elements. The film abandons its predecessor's more relatable character moments in favor of increasingly implausible shootouts and chases. These sequences lack the intelligence that made the original film's comedy resonate, and feel like attempts to inflate the stakes without delivering satisfying comic results.
It's worth noting that the talented cast do the best they can with the material they're given. Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji provide a solid anchor to the chaos, while Carlos Santos, as Maurillio, the station's ubiquitous janitor, offers well-chosen moments of humor. However, their efforts aren't enough to elevate a script that often resembles a mishmash of poorly crafted ideas and poorly executed gags.
Vacation Friends 2 fails to recapture the comic spark of the original. Its attempts to escalate humor through chaotic scenarios and action-packed sequences result in a film that feels more strained than spontaneous. While the chemistry between the lead actors is still there, it's not enough to save a sequel that misses the mark in its quest for more laughs. Instead of building on the foundations established by its predecessor, Vacation Friends 2 ends up being a forgettable sequel that lacks the heart and spirit that made the first film enjoyable.
Vacation Friends 2
Written and directed byClay Tarver
Based on Characters by by Tom Mullen, Tim Mullen, Clay Tarver, Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley
Produced by Todd Garner, Stuart M. Besser
Starring Lil Rel Howery, Yvonne Orji, John Cena, Meredith Hagner, Steve Buscemi, Ronny Chieng, Jamie Hector
Cinematography : Tim Suhrstedt
Edited by Tim Roche
Music by Mark Mothersbaugh
Production companies : 20th Century Studios, Broken Road Productions
Distributed by Hulu (United States), Disney+ (International)
Release date : August 25, 2023 (World)
Running time : 105 minutes
Viewed on August 25, 2023 on Disney+