Drugs, drinking, crass language in raucous comedy.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Vacation Friends strings together scenes of excess with vulgar language, sexual references, drinking, and drugs. Kids may be interested because it features WWE star John Cena, but this movie isn't intended for kids. While on vacation in Mexico, four adults let loose for a week with heavy drinking and a variety of drugs that elicit wild behavior. On the last night, the main character blacks out and can't remember what happens, but he's convinced there was sex involved. We learn the details later. There's more sex talk than activity in this film, though we do see a man's naked bottom and women moving back and forth on top of a man (fully dressed, seen from the waist up). Expect a fair amount of crude sexual and anatomical references. Another unintentional drug trip is portrayed in wild colors, sounds and hallucinations. There's mention or use of cocaine, psychedelic mushrooms, pills, DMT, and marijuana. Some violence is played entirely for comedy, including an apparent gunshot wound, a boat crash, and a fist fight. There are also some jokes about drug trafficking, human trafficking, child abduction, infertility, and cancer. Language includes variations on "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "damn it," "ass," "d--k," and more.
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What's the Story?
Marcus (Lil Rey Howery) has everything planned out for a perfect five-star vacation in Mexico where he plans to propose to his girlfriend, Emily (Yvonne Orji), at the start of VACATION FRIENDS. But things don't go according to his plan when they arrive to a flooded suite and he's forced to propose in the lobby. Two bystanders, Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner), witness the proposal and offer to share their presidential suite with the newly engaged pair. Soon, though, the more staid Marcus and Emily realize that Ron and Kyla are rowdy partiers that like to live dangerously. Will these "vacation friends" become lifelong friends, or will what happens in Mexico stay in Mexico?
Is It Any Good?
Despite some uneven pacing and a few meant-to-be-funny clunkers, this comedy squeaks out the laughs thanks to a blend of quirky characters and surreal situations. Lil Rey Howery and John Cena make a surprisingly funny duo in Vacation Friends. Howery and Orji play straight couple to Cena's and Hagner's wacko shenanigans. The latter pair bring chaos, disaster and mind-altering antics wherever they go, including two drug trips that make for a couple of out-of-control and memorably entertaining sequences.
Howery's perennially put-upon good guy is the most relatable of the bunch, but Cena's mysteriously "weird but impressive" skillset (detecting the precise moment when a bird will poop or communicating with Mayan shamans) also add up to an endearing character. His military connection with Marcus's father-in-law is amusing ("Permission to s--t my pants, captain." "Permission granted.") The film won't be for everyone, and jokes about infertility, cancer, human trafficking, child abduction, and drug trafficking could rub some people wrong. But Vacation Friends has its moments and, maybe more surprisingly, its charm.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the concept of Vacation Friends. Have you ever befriended someone in one circumstance but found you had nothing in common in other settings? Do you think people act differently on vacation than in real life? Why or why not?
John Cena is known as a pro wrestler and a WWE star. How does this background inform the character he plays in this film?
How does race factor into the characters and their relationships in this movie, if at all?
- On DVD or streaming: August 27, 2021
- Cast: Lil Rey Howery, John Cena, Yvonne Orji
- Director: Clay Tarver
- Studio: Hulu
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Holidays
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Drug content, crude sexual references and language throughout
- Last updated: February 28, 2022
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