A worthless sequel that deserves to have its flight cancelled.
The 2021 made-for-Hulu comedy “Vacation Friends” was a big hit, especially with its two leads Lil Rel Howery and John Cena. I didn’t care about that film, and now that we have the sequel “Vacation Friends 2,” I just wished it suffered through a layover. It has to use that generic title, instead of its original choice “Honeymoon Friends,” it relies on more crass behaviors, and rips off jokes from much better film.
The film reunites the mild-mannered newly weds Marcus (Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) with the party animal newly weds Ron (Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagne) for an all-expense paid trip to a Caribbean resort. This time, they’re joined by Ron and Kyla’s baby boy, whom they curse in front of, and would get criticized for having him at a card table in a casino.
The real reason for this expensive vacation is because Marcus is scheduled to have a meeting with the resort’s owner Mrs. Kim (Julee Cerda) to bid on a construction contract for a hotel they own in Chicago. But at this moment, he must impress the VP Yeon (Ronny Chieng) with his weak surfing and Ron’s drinking.
Turns out Marcus isn’t the only person willing to impress someone on this trip. Kyla’s criminal father Reese (Steve Buscemi) has just been released from San Quentin, and surpasses his daughter on the trip. Her old man hasn’t met his son-in-law yet, and he isn’t too impressed with him, despite his combat skills and unconditional love for Kyla.
Like Netflix’s “The Out-Laws,” we have another disapproving parent who thinks he’s better than his son-in-law, but puts his daughter in danger. In Reese’s case, he has to steal money belong to some drug dealers to give to his daughter as a late wedding present, and the villains start to target him and the couples.
And here’s when the film tries to enter throwback territory. Marcus receives a package from Reese, thinking it’s cocaine, but it turns out to be the ashes of Kyla’s dead mother. Think about it. Buscemi played Donny Kerabatsos, the one who died and got cremated in “The Big Lebowski. What happened on that cliff was brilliant. What happens in “Vacation Friends 2” is too lazy.
In what comedy universe is it hilarious when the couples go snorkeling in dirty water with a used condom being found, and their hotel clerk friend Murillo (Carlos Santos) being stuck with babysitting duty? And it’s starting to get exhausting when movie characters, like Marcus, have to try so hard to impress people, only to humiliate themselves in the process. Howery has proven himself to be a flexible comic, but he deserves better material than what he was given here.
One part I did like is when the couples and Reese all get thrown in a shipping crate by the villains, who drop it in the ocean. I like the way Ron is able to use a joint to figure out their only escape route. It’s interesting that the filmmakers (Clay Tarver once again writes and directs) would try to poke fun at that, but it still didn’t make me laugh.
“Vacation Friends 2” is a dead zone in the R-rated comedy sequel genre, on par with “Horrible Bosses 2,” “A Bad Moms Christmas,” and “Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.”
Streaming on Hulu
This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.